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Banks and the False Dichotomy in the Comparative Political Economy of Finance

  • Iain Hardie, David Howarth, Sylvia Maxfield and Amy Verdun

The wide-ranging varieties of capitalism literature rests on a particular conception of banks and banking that, the authors argue, no longer reflects the reality of modern financial systems. They take advantage of the greater information regarding bank activities revealed by the financial crisis to consider the reality, across eight of the world's largest developed economies, of the financial power of banks to act as bulwarks against market forces. This article offers a market-based banking framework that transcends the bank-based/capital market–based dichotomy that dominates comparative political economy's consideration of financial systems and argues that future CPE research should focus on the activities of banks. By demonstrating how market-based banking increases market influences on the supply of credit, the authors highlight an underap-preciated source of financial market pressure on nonfinancial companies (NFCs) that can have a potential impact across the range of issues that the varieties of capitalism (VoC) literature has seen as differentiating national systems. This approach has implications in areas such as labor, welfare, innovation, and flexibility.

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* We thank three anonymous referees and participants at workshops in Victoria, October 2, 2010, and Edinburgh, June 2, 2012. Workshop financial support was provided by a Jean Monnet Chair Ad Personam grant (2009-2936) (Amy Verdun), a Jean Monnet Chair grant (2008-2656) (David Howarth), a European Commission grant (30ce 30ce04719820063), and a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada (sshrc) grant (646-2010-0129). Iain Hardie thanks the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-062-23-1958). Amy Verdun acknowledges her SSHRC (410-2011-0405) standard research grant.

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
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