How Antimonopoly Was Revitalized, Part 2: Barack Obama and The End of the End of History

In this second installment of his three-part series on antitrust’s recent resurrection, Matt Stoller discusses the legacy of Obama’s presidency. The real policy for which Obama will be known is not Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, but bailing out the banks after the 2008 financial crisis and helping Americans and the rest of the world understand that liberal democratic rhetoric was really an ornamental cover for a system of concentrated financial and political power.  

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Towards the Giant Three: The Rise and Rise of the Big Three Index Funds

The Big Three index fund managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Global Advisors—hold a significant proportion of the stock of US public companies, and they continue to grow steadily. There is a real prospect that index funds will continue to grow, and that voting in most significant public companies will come to be dominated by the future “Giant Three,” write Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst.  

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How Finance Affects Income Inequality

There is mounting evidence that income inequality and disparities in wealth have been rising in advanced economies in the recent decades. Using data on advanced and emerging economies, this column investigates the link between an economy’s financial structure—that is, the mix of bank-provided versus market-provided funds—and income inequality. Results show that the relationship is not monotonic. More finance reduces income inequality up to a point, but beyond that point inequality rises, especially if finance is expanded via market-based financing.    

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Loose Policies Around Close Elections Highlight the Political Limits of Macroprudential Regulation

What can policymakers do to prevent future financial crises? An emerging consensus holds that so-called macroprudential regulation is key: policies that aim to mitigate risks to the financial system as a whole. In a recent paper, Karsten Müller of Princeton shows that such policies were systematically loosened in the run-up to two-hundred seventeen elections across 58 countries. This raises the question of whether regulators can, in practice, withstand political pressures.

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