As the global economy confronts its worst downturn since the Great Depression, and America begins to undertake some of the most ambitious policy initiatives since the New Deal, the country is urgently in need of fresh ideas about economic regulation. The financial crisis has shaken many core assumptions of the prevailing academic view of regulation, while popular attitudes toward government are shifting as well. Abundant evidence from polling data and the discussions surrounding the 2008 election suggest that a great many Americans want to see new approaches for addressing the nation's most pressing challenges. The deregulatory mindset that most influenced American policymakers over the last three decades seems to have given way to a new openness about the role of government in the market. What we need now are compelling conceptual frameworks for fashioning public policy that can encourage innovation while maintaining long-term financial stability, optimize both economic growth and shared prosperity, and strike sensible and cooperative balances between public and private governance.
The necessity for such innovative thinking motivated the conference that in turn gave rise to the essays in this volume. In February of 2008, as the true significance of the emerging global financial crisis was just becoming visible, more than fifty scholars and policymakers met for several days to begin the work of fashioning a new research agenda on regulation and the economic role of the state.
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