Financial Deregulation: A Historical Perspective
This conference will address the liberalisation of the financial sector that occurred towards the end of the 20th Century, with a particular focus on the 1980s. It will cover different countries and consider the emergence and persistence of a new regulatory paradigm until – or even after – the recent financial crisis.
In most rich countries, various measures have been passed in order to liberalise and “modernise” the financial markets. Each country had its own agenda, but each of them has experienced, to a various extent, a change in regulatory regime. Interest rates paid on deposits have been liberalised, competition has been favoured, traditional barriers between insurance, banking, and
financial market activities, have been removed, as well as exchange controls. Access to domestic markets by foreign financial institutions has been facilitated through reciprocal agreements or through an open door approach attracting foreign investors.
Financial deregulation – or liberalisation – has not yet been thoroughly examined by historians, though, because of the difficulty to access archival material for recent periods. However, such material is becoming increasingly accessible and allows historians to take a new look at the matter, particularly concerning the 1980s.
As major reforms of the financial sector, such as Basel III, are being widely debated today, it is important to take a broader and longer-term view, in order to understand if we are still living under the same regulatory regime as before, or if a truly new paradigm has emerged. We will address the relevance of the notion of “deregulation”, the links between the changes under consideration and globalisation, and the respective influence of market forces and politics in this process. These questions call for an interdisciplinary approach that not only looks at historical and economic aspects, but also addresses legal, conceptual, and political issues.
Organiser: Youssef Cassis