Reregulation and the Regulatory Timeline

37 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2014 Last revised: 17 Jun 2016

See all articles by Peter Molk

Peter Molk

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: March 16, 2016


Regulation is often casually conceived of as functioning like a binary on/off switch: as if an area, issue, or industry is either regulated or not. While this binary model of regulation can be useful, it also decontextualizes regulatory decisions from their position in time, and thus obscures important ways in which regulators are constrained and incentivized by past and future decisions. As an alternative, we present a timeline approach to regulation. The timeline approach is particularly helpful in illustrating the ways that earlier regulatory decisions create vestigial effects for later related decisions, and for highlighting the informational advantage that later regulators have over regulators earlier in the timeline. These temporally contextualized qualities are especially important under conditions of reregulation, which arise when a previously deregulated issue is regulated once again. Applying insights from financial option theory, we show how lessons from the timeline approach can be used to enhance regulatory decision-making at all stages on the timeline.

Keywords: regulation, deregulation, regulatory analysis, timeline, path dependency, intertemporal dependence, time orientation, regulation over time

JEL Classification: K40, K49, K20, K21, K23, K29, K32, K39, K00

Suggested Citation

Molk, Peter and Rowell, Arden, Reregulation and the Regulatory Timeline (March 16, 2016). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 101 (2016), Available at SSRN: or

Peter Molk (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

Arden Rowell

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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