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The symbolic politics of delegation: macroprudential policy and independent regulatory authorities


  • Domenico Lombardi
  • Manuela Moschella


This paper investigates the motivations that led policy-makers to delegate macroprudential authorities to newly created independent systemic regulatory authorities (SRAs). Three case studies are examined: the US Financial Stability Oversight Council, the European Systemic Risk Board and the UK’s Financial Policy Committee. Policy-makers’ motivations are captured by examining the specific institutional features of the newly created SRAs and by tracing the legislative debates that surrounded their creation. The findings of this empirical analysis call into question several of the conventional claims that are used to justify delegation to technocratic agencies from the functionalist and ideational scholarship. Given the limitations of the explanations based on efficiency considerations and socialisation of welfare losses, this paper suggests that the delegation of powers to SRAs was ultimately motivated by what is referred to as the ‘logic of symbolic politics.’ It is argued that the main motivation that emerges from the legislative debates for delegating this important task is that the SRAs provided a quick institutional ‘fix’ to signal to the public that in the wake of the international crisis of 2007–2009, policy-makers were redressing regulatory mistakes made prior to and during the crisis that had caused a severe deterioration of public’s wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Domenico Lombardi & Manuela Moschella, 2017. "The symbolic politics of delegation: macroprudential policy and independent regulatory authorities," New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 92-108, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cnpexx:v:22:y:2017:i:1:p:92-108
    DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2016.1198758

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, Barry, 2016. "Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780190621070.
    2. Sushil Bikhchandani & Sunil Sharma, 2001. "Herd Behavior in Financial Markets," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(3), pages 1-1.
    3. William R. White, 2006. "Procyclicality in the financial system: do we need a new macrofinancial stabilisation framework?," BIS Working Papers 193, Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Olivier Blanchard & Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Paolo Mauro, 2010. "Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(s1), pages 199-215, September.
    5. Stijn Claessens & Laura E. Kodres, 2014. "The Regulatory Responses to the Global Financial Crisis; Some Uncomfortable Questions," IMF Working Papers 14/46, International Monetary Fund.
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