Regulating Banks

The Politics of Instability

Andrew Whitworth

£70.00  |  $99.00
ISBN 9781788214049
£70.00  |  $99.00
ISBN 9781788214056
208 pages   |  234 x 156mm   |  10 December 2021


"Succinctly and expertly, Whitworth builds a case in which regulatory changes (often initiated as part of a political process) change what a bank is. His argument is very powerful. The reader is treated to an exceptionally well-researched and well-written discourse on key events in British banking history. The scope of the analysis is impressive and leaves no doubt that the task of regulating banks in a competitive international system, while ensuring financial stability in the face of political and geopolitical pressures, is challenging though fundamental to the success of the financial sector and the wider economy." – Jonathan Williams, Professor of Banking and Finance, Bangor University


Banks have been at the heart of economic activity for centuries, but since the 2008 financial crisis scrutiny of their activities and regulation of their actions has become the focus of fervent academic, policy and political activity. This focus takes for granted the existence and nature of banks.

In Regulating Banks, Andrew Whitworth looks one stage deeper to question what a bank really is, and what the implications of that are. He argues that the institutional form of a bank represents the political compromise of a specific time and place - and can therefore change. This has implications for financial stability. Far from creating stability, he argues, the regulatory impulse of policy-makers inevitably leads to greater financial instability.

Whitworth examines the postwar period of UK banking to show how regulation influences the nature of banks as much as their behaviour. Regulation, by changing the nature of what is regulated, encourages banks and other actors over time to alter their behaviour, which leads to future boom and bust cycles. These cycles then require further regulation to rein in the disruption their new pattern of behaviour inevitably instigates.

Regulating Banks reveals the cyclical nature of banking regulation, the inherent mismatch between political impulses and market reactions, and the price banks, banking and society pay for such instability.


1. Introduction: what is a bank?
2. The financial-regulatory cycle
3. Other ways of banking: the UK experience, 1945–70
4. Competition and Credit Control (C&CC) and the secondary banking crisis
5. The Banking Act 1979 and Johnson Matthey Bankers
6. Returning to the question: how the financial-regulatory cycle creates financial instability
7. The City revolution, 1987 Banking Act and two international bank failures
8. New Labour reforms and the 2008 financial crisis
9: The post-crisis response
10: Conclusion: banking regimes

Author Information

Andrew Whitworth is a specialist in financial regulation and policy. He currently works in the fintech sector and previously worked at the Bank of England, as well as in political risk in the UK, US and EU. He holds a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University SAIS in Washington, DC.

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