Current Scholarship
Financialization, Structural Power, and the Global Financial Crisis for Europe’s Core and Periphery

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Author: Nina Eichacker

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), European governments intervened to support domestic financial systems; several years later, peripheral European economies were at greater risk of having domestic financial crises transform into fiscal crises. While mainstream economic thinking predicts financial markets will punish risky bank behavior with higher interest rates and punitive resolution measures, in fact, banks in core European economies, which engaged in riskier activity in the subprime mortgage market, faced preferential treatment in the aftermath of the GFC. This paper argues that financialization, the increased structural economic power of financial institutions, increased the structural power of core members of the Eurozone to direct supranational policies after the GFC. It supports these claims with financial data from balance sheets for a sample of EU economies, as well as institutional analysis of the financial aspects of European integration, and the financial, monetary, and fiscal responses that followed the onset of the GFC. While banks in the Eurozone core were more likely to have engaged in risky behavior, they were more likely to receive liquidity assistance from monetary authorities like the Federal Reserve due to their activity in the US. As Eurozone governments consider how to respond to crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic going forward, policies that more equitably support governments rescuing domestic financial actors should be considered in tandem with broader financial regulations of structurally important economic institutions.

Nina Eichaker, “Financialization, Structural Power, and the Global Financial Crisis for Europe’s Core and Periphery,” International Journal of Political Economy (October 2022), forthcoming.