Course Name

Financial Crises


  • General



An illustrated poster for the 1895 play "The War of Wealth." The poster shows a large crowd in front of a bank on a city corner.

A poster for "The War of Wealth," an 1895 melodrama depicting a 19th century run on a U.S. bank. This course focuses on helping students gain a deeper understanding of financial crises such as bank runs by using economic theory and empirical evidence. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress. This image is in the public domain.)


Prof. Alp Simsek

MIT Course Number


As Taught In

January IAP 2016



Cite This Course



Course Features

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the economic theories of financial crises. It focuses on amplification mechanisms that exacerbate crises, such as leverage, fire sales, bank runs, interconnections, and complexity. It also analyzes the different perspectives on the origins of crises, such as mistaken beliefs and moral hazard, and discusses the optimal regulation of the financial system. The course draws upon examples from financial crises around the world, especially the recent subprime financial crisis.

14.09 is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.