Banking Regulation, Regulatory Capture and Inequality
Originally published in Public Choice
Regulation of the banking and finance industry may lead to a more equal distribution of income if regulators pursue goals in the public interest. Alternatively, the economic theory of regulation predicts that regulatory and supervisory processes may be captured by the banking industry, leading to policies that promote the industry’s interests. The liberalization of the banking and finance sector since the 1980s has produced more intense banking supervision and prudential regulation. In this study we find that banking supervision regulation is associated with greater income inequality. These findings are consistent with the economic theory of regulation. We interpret these results as evidence that regulatory capture in the banking and finance industry can have pernicious effects on the distribution of income.