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On the Political Economy of Financial Deregulation


  • Korkut Erturk


Drawing broadly on the literature on the political economy of the financial crisis, the paper looks at deregulation as a market driven process that culminated in a collective action failure. In the run up to the 2008 Financial Crisis strong competition and moral hazard went hand in hand and that raises a flag that needs explanation. The paper argues that opportunistic profit (rent) seeking was more the cause rather than the effect of moral hazard and regulation failure. Deregulation promised higher profitability partly because of better risk management made possible by advances in information technology and partly because financial institutions could take “tail-risks” the full cost of which they did not have to bear. The profits deregulation promised in turn incentivized financial firms to invest in tilting the political process to shape government policy. Because systemic risk cannot be fully privatized social insurance against it is inevitably a common pool (or open) resource, which means that there is an incentive for financial units to over-extract in the form of excessive risk taking in the absence of effective regulation. That explains why with deregulation market competition could culminate in excessive risk taking with mounting social costs. Using simple game theory the paper gives a stylized account of what sustained the deregulatory trend. In the course of deregulation, the regulator’s implicit threat of imposing discipline on financial institutions lost much of its credibility. That, combined with growing plutocracy go a long way in explaining why deregulation became a run-away market driven process that worsened the problem of moral hazard over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Korkut Erturk, 2016. "On the Political Economy of Financial Deregulation," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2016_01, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uta:papers:2016_01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles W. Calomiris & Stephen H. Haber, 2015. "Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10177-2, March.
    2. Freixas, Xavier & Laeven, Luc & Peydró, José-Luis, 2015. "Systemic Risk, Crises, and Macroprudential Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262028697.
    3. Martin Gilens, 2014. "Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9836, September.
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    More about this item


    financial deregulation; collective action failure; excessive risk taking; moral hazard JEL Classification: D72; C70; G20; G18;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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