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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

Year Degree Awarded

Spring 2014

First Advisor

Gerald Epstein

Second Advisor

James Crotty

Third Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Subject Categories

Economic History | Finance | International Economics | Macroeconomics | Other International and Area Studies | Political Economy

Abstract

This dissertation asks the following questions. How has financial liberalization affected the incidence of financial crisis in Europe? How have power asymmetries within Western Europe facilitated the process of financial liberalization, and distributed the costs and gains from this liberalization? How have these dynamics been demonstrated at the state level?

It charts the institutional liberalization and privatization of European finance from the 1960s onward and presents a survey of descriptive statistics that show how different financial stability, financial flow, and macroeconomic variables have changed in Western Europe since the early 1980s, generally increasing financial and economic instability. It also demonstrates the change in securitization, and European banks’ tendencies to hold securitized assets on their balance sheets. An econometric investigation of the relationship between financial liberalization and the incidence of financial crisis shows that a statistically significant and positive correlation exists between international financial flows and the onset of financial crisis. It creates a framework for understanding the power dynamics between national, industrial, and class interests in Western Europe that promoted secular financial liberalization as well as the institutional design of the EMU that mandated financial liberalization. Finally, it examines the process of financial liberalization in detail in three states, Iceland, Ireland, and Germany. It finds ambiguous evidence that financial liberalization has helped these economies when comparing domestic class interests, or when comparing international interests.