International Regulatory Competition and Coordination: Perspectives on Economic Regulation in Europe and the United States

By William W. Bratton; Joseph McCahery et al. | Go to book overview
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Introduction: Regulatory Competition and Institutional Evolution

WILLIAM W. BRATTON, JOSEPH McCAHERY, SOL PICCIOTTO, AND COLIN SCOTT

Reductions in border controls and other forms of state intervention have created a much greater potential for, if not always actual increases of, flows of goods, services, capital, and labour between jurisdictions. Talk of 'globalization' is widespread among observers, both popular and academic, who speculate about the implications of this increase in the fluidity and openness of the world economic system. The reduction in border controls has brought more sharply into focus the ways in which differences in national arrangements, including regulatory systems, may act as 'non-tariff-barriers' hindering cross-border flows. At the same time, the concept of competition has emerged in a more pervasive form, and is invoked as a counterweight to these institutional constraints. Competitive markets are no longer understood only as structuring private economic relations, but also as an actual or potential determinant of levels and modes of public provision and state activity. National governments are seen not only to respond to the politically-expressed wishes of their citizens, but to the exigencies of international market forces.1

The increased emphasis on competition has generally had a negative impact on existing regulatory processes, for a variety of reasons. Intense competitive jockeying for market access causes traditional regulatory requirements to be seen as costs and barriers. This view applies to a wide swathe of regulation, from product safety and other consumer protection laws, to disclosure requirements for firms and issuers of securities, as well as probity and capital adequacy conditions for financial services firms, and antitrust or competition laws and policies applied to business. Firms complain that the regulatory requirements of foreign countries hinder market access, but also that the requirements of home country regulators are an unfair burden to them vis-à-vis their foreign competitors. At the same time, greater public awareness and concern over matters such as environmental, health, and safety protection have raised the cost implications of regulatory

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1
See e.g. Krugman ( 1994) and the subsequent debate in Foreign Affairs.

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