Financial Regulator – A 'captured regulator'

Gavin has just informed me that there is an official description for regulatory agencies like the Irish Financial Regulator who act in favour of special interest groups rather than the public good (my emphasis)

Regulatory capture is a term used to refer to situations in which a government regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead acts in favor of the commercial or special interests that dominate in the industry or sector it is charged with regulating (This is an exact description of how the Irish Financial Regulator operates).

For public choice theorists, regulatory capture occurs because groups or individuals with a high-stakes interest in the outcome of policy or regulatory decisions can be expected to focus their resources and energies in attempting to gain the policy outcomes they prefer, while members of the public, each with only a tiny individual stake in the outcome, will ignore it altogether.

When this imbalance of focused resources devoted to a particular policy outcome is successful at “capturing” influence with the staff or commission members of a regulatory agency so that the preferred policy outcomes of the special interest are implemented, then regulatory capture has occurred.

Regulatory capture theory is a core focus of the branch of public choice referred to as the economics of regulation, economists in this specialty are critical of conceptualizations of regulatory intervention by governments as being motivated to protect public goods. Two often cited articles are Laffont & Tirole (1991) and Levine & Forrence (1990).

The theory of regulatory capture is associated with Nobel laureate economist George Stigler, one of its main developers. Two other cited references are Bernstein (1955) and Huntington (1952).

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Financial Regulator

One thought on “Financial Regulator – A 'captured regulator'”

  1. While digging further into the above I came across an article entitled “Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor” (you can find it by clicking the link above – Regulatory Capture – and finding another link there (I am unable to insert hyperlinks in this response box.

    The article – Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor – describes exactly what is going on now – and apparently for some time – in our wonderful free market economy. It articulates for me some fuzzy ideas I had but was unable to verbalize. You live and learn!

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