Regulating Finance: Expert Cognitive Frameworks, Adaptive Learning, and Interests in Financial Regulatory Change
My dissertation seeks to understand how and why governments make major changes in financial sector regulations. I focus on two specific puzzles. First why is financial sector regulation not normally central to electoral competition and why are changes in financial sector regulation rare events? Second, why do we observe substantive intellectual debates and efforts of policy persuasion despite the conclusion of many researchers and observers that financial regulatory policy outcomes are driven by the preferences of powerful special interest groups? What are the mechanisms precisely by which ideas versus interests shape policy outcomes in a domain that is not often central to electoral politics? I investigate these questions through a formal game theoretical model of the regulatory policymaking process and through case studies of historic episodes of financial regulatory change in the United States which draw upon a wide variety of primary and secondary source historical materials. I conclude that financial regulatory change is most likely to occur when events of different types cause heads of government to perceive that the existing regulatory status quo threatens the realization of broader policy objectives. Heads of financial sector policy bureaucracies shape outcomes by providing cognitive frameworks through which leaders understand regulatory consequences. Interest groups influence policy outcomes primarily through their ability to act as veto players rather than by controlling the policy agenda.
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