Research

My research is in international and comparative political economy. Empirically, I am interested in how the state has structured the development of capitalism; how regulatory regimes have evolved in response to globalization, technological change, and the diffusion of neoliberal ideology; and the implications of these changes for a range of economic and political outcomes, including industrial concentration, economic inequality, trust in government, and support for populist political parties.

 

1. The Political Economy of Competition Policy

2. European Union Politics

I have published articles about the effects of the Euro-crisis on public trust in government, the role of the economy in public support for European integration and the politics of European financial regulatory reform in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

3. The Politics of Populism

In collaborative projects, I am examining the relationship between welfare retrenchment and public support for European populism, and populism and democracy theory.

Trust on Trial:

Competition and the State in the Neoliberal Era

In my current book project, Trust on Trial: Competition and the State in the Neoliberal Era, which is based on my dissertation, I examine the transformation of competition law since the end of World War II. The first book-length comparison of European Union and US competition policy outside of the fields of law or economics, the analysis explains why American antitrust enforcement has waned since the 1970’s and the European Union’s competition enforcement system has been strengthened, even as both systems have developed

a more marketized approach to competition policy.

 

Drawing from a combination of quantitative analysis of enforcement data, qualitative analysis of competition cases, archival research, and elite interviews, I argue that the distinct trajectories stem from the way that postwar regulatory structures and jurisprudential regimes conditioned the reform strategies of neoliberal coalitions in the 1970s and 1980's. Responding to new economic challenges resulting from globalization and deindustrialization as well as shifts in the predominant framework used to understand the economy, policymakers developed more market-oriented approaches to competition policy and enforcement. However, because state actors were seeking to reform different pre-existing regulatory arrangements and operated within jurisprudential regimes that had been influenced by distinct schools of economic liberalism, they pursued divergent pathways of neoliberal reform. In the United States, policymakers pursued deregulatory marketization: reducing federal antitrust authority, narrowing the scope of antitrust, and reducing enforcement in most areas. In the European Union, by contrast, policymakers pursued reregulatory marketization, expanding ‘federal’ regulatory authority, widening the scope of competition law, and intensifying enforcement.

A final part of the book examines the economic consequences of the different pathways of neoliberal reform. Through three comparative chapters that explore the pattern of competition enforcement since 1980, I show that the distinct trajectories of competition policy development have had important consequences for the contemporary political economy in three main areas: (1) the liberalization of formerly state-owned or regulated network industries; (2) the level of public aid to industry and the degree of interstate competition for investment within each economic bloc; and (3) the autonomy of dominant firms to structure the marketplace in their own interests. 

The Political Economy of Competition Policy

In addition to my book project, I have written several working papers related to competition policy.

In one paper, "Varieties of Neoliberalism: Courts, Competition Paradigms and the Atlantic Divide in Antitrust" [R&R from Socio-Economic Review] which is drawn from the book project, I explain why anti-dominance rules are now more intensively enforced in the European Union compared to the United States, in contrast to the pattern at mid-century. Using a combination of historical analysis of legal developments and empirical analysis of the pattern of enforcement and judicial review, I show that industrial policy, business capture, and the relative power of economists cannot fully account for the divide. American and European antitrust policy is structured by distinct competition paradigms which have been institutionalized by courts through case law. In the United States, a laissez-fairejurisprudential regime has blocked or discouraged anti-monopoly enforcement. In Europe, an ordoliberal jurisprudential regime has facilitated a more intensive enforcement program. In highlighting how case law structures regulatory paradigms, the analysis shows that courts can contribute to both ideational continuity and change in economic policy. 

 

In "Legalism without Adversarialism: Public and Private Enforcement in the European Union,"  [R&R from Regulation & Governance]  I examine the extent to which European integration has encouraged more adversarial regulatory approaches, as predicted by a number of scholars. Examining EU legislation and the pattern of public and private enforcement in the competition and securities fields, two policy areas where adversarial litigation is seen as most likely to develop, I find that the European Union has not encouraged the private enforcement of public law. European directives and regulations promote administrative enforcement through vertically coordinated networks of independent regulatory agencies, a regulatory style closer to bureaucratic legalism. In practice, public enforcement through administrative action has grown much more rapidly than private enforcement, which remains infrequent in most European jurisdictions. The paper highlights how the diffusion of regulatory legalism in Europe has been mediated by the European Council’s veto power, the negative feedback effects of the U.S. experience with entrepreneurial litigation, and the inertia of European legal and bureaucratic traditions. 

 

In a third project, entitled "The Protectionist Politics of Globalized Regulatory Enforcement: Evidence from Cartel Prosecutions Involving Foreign Firms," I investigate whether globalized regulatory enforcement has been used to promote local prerogatives in integrated markets.

Drawing from a new database of cartel enforcement that covers 7,000 regulatory sanctions in 33 OECD countries, I investigate whether foreign firms face stiffer sanctions than domestic firms that commit similar regulatory violations. Developing new measures that account for differences in the size and gravity of cartel activity, I find that foreign firms receive fines that are two to three times more severe than similarly situated domestic firms. I find little evidence that foreign discrimination is limited by either judicial review or independent competition agencies. The findings suggest that globalized regulatory enforcement is shaped by economic patriotism, and that economic patriotism has intensified alongside globalization.  

The 2008 Crisis and Its Political Aftermath

The effects of the Euro-crisis on European politics is a second area of research interest.

 

In an article published in European Union Politics, Jeff Frieden and I investigate the effects of the Euro-crisis on Europeans’ confidence in government. We find that Europeans’ trust in political institutions has dropped precipitously since the onset of the Euro-crisis, and that trust has declined the most within the countries and among workers most adversely affected. Drawing from an extensive analysis of 600,000 responses to 23 waves of the Eurobarometer, we show that economic, more than cultural or political factors, explain the acute, asymmetrical decline in citizen trust observed over the last decade. The most cited article published in European Union Politics over the last three years, the research has been used by the European Commission and Brookings Institution.

In another article for European Union Politics that will be published in early 2021, we have conducted a more in-depth analysis of the economic determinants of support for the EU regime. Examining a quarter century of Eurobarometer responses, we find that utilitarian considerations at both the national and individual levels remain important predictors of support for the EU regime even as national identity has also played an increasingly important role. Where macro-economic conditions are favorable compared to historical patterns, and where individuals have occupational positions that experienced more relative benefit from integration, citizens express more support for membership and more satisfaction with EU democracy. The findings point to the continuing relevance of economic interests in explaining public support for the European project as well as the difficulty of disentangling utilitarian and identitarian explanations. 

In a study published in the Review of European and Russian AffairsI examine how the financial crisis and new European Union securities legislation enacted in its aftermath has affected the regulatory practices of key European jurisdictions. Examining the pattern of change in the UK, France, and Germany, I show that in all jurisdictions regulatory policies and practices have changed since 2010; however, the pathway of change has been conditioned by pre-crisis industrial policies. The empirical findings provides support for the economic patriotism thesis. Even as the globalization of finance and the Europeanization of regulation has delimited national strategies, states have continued to promote national interests within integrated markets.

The Politics of Populism

A third research focus is the political economy of European populism.

In a working paper with Jeffry Frieden, recently presented at Harvard's Seminar on the State and Capitalism Since 1800, we examine whether labor market spending affects support for populist political parties opposed to European integration and globalization. Examining a panel of nearly 200 elections held in western Europe from 1990-2017 and analyzing pooled cross-sectional data from eight waves of the European Social Survey, we find evidence that populist parties are less successful where public spending on welfare is higher and has been cut less substantially from historical levels. The research suggests that, while the growing strength of populist political parties is rooted in long-term economic and cultural changes, compensatory social spending may moderate their appeal.

I have also contributed to a research project led by Jane Mansbridge and Stephen Macedo that examines the relationship between populism and democratic theory.  Drawing from normative theory, an empirical analysis of the U.S. populists and Spanish Podemos movement, and a quantitative coding of the features of populism identified by contemporary scholarship, we develop a typology of populism’s core and non-core features. We find that appeals to exclusive or homogenous conceptions of the people, charismatic leadership, the vilification of vulnerable outgroups, and a disregard for deliberation are often correlated with populist movements but are not found in all populist movements. We conclude that while populist parties do have tendencies that are dangerous to liberal democracy, these need not be fundamental. Especially when in opposition, populist parties can benefit democracy, inspiring political participation and raising ignored grievances that might not be possible within elitist and pluralist conceptions of politics.