At a weekly National Economists Club luncheon in June, guest speaker Robert Bliss had a sly, tongue-in-cheek confession about the economy. "It's really nice to have this crisis," said the Wake Forest economics professor, "because papers in the obscure journals are getting read by people."

He got some laughs from a Washington, D.C., audience that probably reads technical periodicals like the Journal of Financial Stability. But Bliss was right. This year, while the Obama administration was devising its plan for creating on a systemic risk regulator, the Congressional Research Service did some homework on the implications of interdependent risk by dusting off some academic papers published prior to the 2008 meltdown by Bliss and his research colleague, George G. Kaufman of Loyola University in Chicago. (Both are former senior Chicago Fed economists, as well).

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