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Translating the Blueprint for Financial Deregulation: The American Bank Lobby’s Unyielding Quest for Legislative Profits, 1968–1982


In 1968, facing a tumultuous banking environment, commercial bankers framed bank lobbying as the act of translating the complex U.S. financial and economic systems for legislators and regulators. Inspired by Science and Technology Studies research, this article demonstrates that the translations of the U.S. financial system offered by bank lobbyists were not merely descriptions of the complex banking system. Instead, their translations reflected a process that sought to create networks of congressional and public support and enroll other actors as spokespersons for these translations. The article details how the acceptance for these translations proved to be a long process of reformulations, reconfigurations, and failures. There were three primary lobbying strategies used by large U.S. commercial banks: maintaining close relationships with high-ranking decision makers, making public statements to gain public support for their translations of the economy, and advocating for long and expert studies with heavy bank consultation. The article also highlights the techniques used by bank lobbyists during this period to alter the banking environment: legislation drafting, editorial writing, letter writing, report writing, private consultations, meetings with reporters, and public statements. These lobbying techniques and strategies were instrumental in establishing the Hunt Commission and translating and actualizing the blueprint for financial “deregulation.”

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Enterprise & Society
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