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World Politics

Vol. 65, No. 4

October 2013

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

By 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 underappreciated 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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