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Financial Liberalisation and Political Variables: a response to Abiad and Mody

  • Brian Burgoon

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Panicos Demetriades

    (University of Leicester)

  • Geoffrey R D Underhill

    (University of Amsterdam)

We challenge recent findings by Abiad and Mody (2005) which suggest that financial liberalization has little to do with political variables. This analysis is at odds with some of the established literature, and only with difficulty comes to terms with the considerable cross-national variation in the pace, phasing, and extent of financial reforms over time. Using Abiad and Mody’s own index of financial liberalization, but slightly unbundling and refining their measures of ‘ideological affinity’ and ‘regime type’, we examine what Abiad and Mody call the ‘triggers’ of liberalisation and the dynamics of the subsequent ‘cumulative transformation’. We demonstrate the role of political variables in relation to initial liberalisation episodes, and as variables affecting the cumulative dynamics and sustainability of ongoing financial reform processes, including those which affect the acceptability and costs of liberalization. These factors include (i) shifts to – as opposed to levels in – Left government; (ii) the incidence of Left governments combined with low levels of democracy; (iii) international voter support for free markets; (iv) the extent of social safety nets; (v) the presence of multilateral and bilateral aid programs. Our empirical investigation confirms these factors as statistically significant determinants of financial liberalization, and reveal what Abiad and Mody identify as ‘learning’ to be a highly political process.

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Paper provided by ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London in its series WEF Working Papers with number 0039.

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Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wef:wpaper:0039
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  1. Robert J. Franzese Jr. & Jude C. Hays, 2006. "Strategic Interaction among EU Governments in Active Labor Market Policy-making," European Union Politics, , vol. 7(2), pages 167-189, June.
  2. Haggard, Stephan & Webb, Steven B, 1993. "What Do We Know about the Political Economy of Economic Policy Reform?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 143-68, July.
  3. Hays, Jude C. & Ehrlich, Sean D. & Peinhardt, Clint, 2005. "Government Spending and Public Support for Trade in the OECD: An Empirical Test of the Embedded Liberalism Thesis," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(02), pages 473-494, April.
  4. Ashoka Mody & Abdul Abiad, 2003. "Financial Reform: What Shakes it? What Shapes it?," IMF Working Papers 03/70, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 1999. "Is Globalization Today Really Different than Globalization a Hunderd Years Ago?," NBER Working Papers 7195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Burgoon, Brian, 2001. "Globalization and Welfare Compensation: Disentangling the Ties that Bind," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(03), pages 509-551, June.
  7. Philip Arestis & Panicos Demetriades, 1999. "Financial Liberalization: The Experience of Developing Countries," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 441-457, Fall.
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