Regulatory Cycles: Revisiting the Political Economy of Financial Crises

88 Pages Posted: 1 May 2016 Last revised: 4 Apr 2018

See all articles by Jihad C. Dagher

Jihad C. Dagher

Milken Institute; Department of Economics | University of Southern California ; Goethe University | House of Finance

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 27, 2017


Financial crises are traditionally analyzed as purely economic phenomena. The political economy of financial booms and busts remains both under-emphasized and limited to isolated episodes. The policy discussions and economic literature generated by the most recent wave of financial crises have been usually cast in technical terms and tended to overlook political forces that shape regulations over time. The narrative tends to revolve around the view that financial innovations are much ahead of regulators. This paper examines the political economy of financial policy during some of the most infamous financial booms and busts since the 18th century, and presents consistent evidence of pro-cyclical regulatory policies by governments. Financial booms, and risk-taking during these episodes, were often amplified, if not ignited, by political regulatory stimuli, credit subsidies, and an increasing light-touch approach to financial supervision. The regulatory backlash that ensues from financial crises can only be understood in the context of the deep political ramifications of these crises. In cases where the regulatory response weakened over time, this usually happened mostly during the course of the following boom. The interplay between politics and financial policy over these cycles, and their institutional underpinnings, deserve further attention. History suggests that politics can be the undoing of macro-prudential regulations.

Keywords: regulation, financial crises, cycles, boom-busts, politics, political economy, Dodd-Frank Act, Great Depression, Great Recession, Housing boom

JEL Classification: D72, D78, G1, G18, N00, P16

Suggested Citation

Dagher, Jihad C., Regulatory Cycles: Revisiting the Political Economy of Financial Crises (November 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Jihad C. Dagher (Contact Author)

Milken Institute

1250 Fourth Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
United States

Department of Economics | University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Goethe University | House of Finance ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
60629 Frankfurt am Main

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