Private Policies and Public Power: When Banks Act as Regulators within a Regime of Privilege
84 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2019 Last revised: 21 Jan 2020
Date Written: October 9, 2019
An emerging trend in financial services is banks’ increasingly common refusal to do business with industries for political reasons rather than for traditional business justifications. Banks’ refusals are often explained by a desire to make a difference or send a message. While this desire may not raise a concern in most cases, banks are not like most other businesses. Banks enjoy an extensive regime of privilege provided by federal and state governments that includes barriers to market entry and exit, more favorable regulatory treatment than nonbank competitors in some areas, and direct and privileged access to services provided by the government. This paper asks whether this public power, granted to banks for the purposes of facilitating lawful commerce, is being misused when banks try to regulate downstream markets through withholding services and what, if anything, should be done to address these actions by banks.
Keywords: banks, banking, private regulation, public power, economic privilege, regulation, financial services, too big to fail
JEL Classification: G2, G3, K1, K2, L2, L5, M1, N2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation