Neoliberalism and Regulatory Capitalism: Understanding The ‘Freer Markets More Rules’ Puzzle
35 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 25, 2017
Over the past four decades, across the OECD countries and beyond, we observe a simultaneous increase (a) in the number, the budgets and the staffing of regulatory agencies, as well as the number of regulations, and (b) of economic liberalization, as measured by economic freedom and doing business indices. This is the “freer markets, more rules” or “more capitalism, more regulations” puzzle. This puzzle provides a window into the underlining mechanisms behind the complex regulatory developments in advanced democracies and transition economies, showcasing both some convergence trends and some diversity of the regulatory national patterns. Before the recent post-financial crisis backlash, the neoliberal agenda of privatization and deregulation seems to have happened in a roundabout manner as a side-effect of regulatory capitalism, rather than by implementing the policy and institutional recommendations of authors like Hayek, Friedman, and Buchanan. Three common hypotheses about “neoliberalism” don’t work very well: pro-market ideology as a driver of policy, rent-seeking in favor of deregulation, and markets outpacing attempts at government regulation. Two other hypotheses provide better insight: a heterogeneous regulatory environment allows private firms to engage in regulatory arbitrage, and political entrepreneurs under public finance constraints look for novel ways of obtaining tax revenues. The emerging picture provides a serious challenge to both critics and supporters of neoliberalism.
Keywords: Regulatory Capture, Regulatory Arbitrage, Independent Regulatory Agencies, Ideology, Rule of Law, Crony Capitalism
JEL Classification: P16, D72, K20, K23, L51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation