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Financial Underpinnings of Europe’s Financial Crisis

Liberalization, Integration, and Asymmetric State Power

Nina Eichacker

This book analyzes how financial liberalization affected the development of the financial crisis in Europe, with particular attention given to the ways in which power asymmetries within Western Europe facilitated financial liberalization and distributed the costs and gains from it. The author combines institutional narrative analysis with empirical surveys and econometrics, as well as country-level studies of financial liberalization and its consequences before and after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.
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Chapter 2: European financial liberalization since World War II

Liberalization, Integration, and Asymmetric State Power

Nina Eichacker

Extract

This chapter provides a brief synopsis of European financial liberalization since World War II. It shows the staggered process of liberalization, in which certain countries retained highly regulated and largely public financial sectors well into the late twentieth century, while others quickly liberalized financial markets in one or more arenas from the 1950s onward. It shows that the EMU’s peripheral economies – Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland – were later to liberalize financial sectors in many respects, while most of Europe’s core economies – Germany, the Netherlands, Austria – were much quicker to liberalize. It argues that the relative experience the core states had with liberalized financial systems better prepared them to weather financial crises like what would come in 2008, while leaving historically more regulated economies more vulnerable to financial shocks.

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