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The revolving door and worker flows in banking regulation
Drawing on a large sample of publicly available curricula vitae, this paper traces the career transitions of federal and state U.S. banking regulators and provides basic facts on worker flows between the regulatory and private sectors resulting from the revolving door. We find strong countercyclical net worker flows into regulatory jobs, driven largely by higher gross outflows into the private sector during booms. These worker flows are also driven by state-specific banking conditions as measured by local banks? profitability, asset quality, and failure rates. The regulatory sector seems to experience a retention challenge over time, with shorter regulatory spells for workers, and especially those with higher education. Evidence from cross-state enforcement actions of regulators shows that gross inflows into regulation and gross outflows from regulation are both higher during periods of intense enforcement, though gross outflows are significantly smaller in magnitude. These results appear inconsistent with a ?quid pro quo? explanation of the revolving door but consistent with a ?regulatory schooling? hypothesis.
AUTHORS: Seru, Amit; Trebbi, Francesco; Lucca, David O.
Worker Flows in Banking Regulation
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, job transitions of personnel in banking supervision and regulation between the public and private sectors?often labeled the revolving door?have come under intense scrutiny and have been blamed by certain economists (Johnson and Kwak), legal scholars (John Coffee in the Financial Times), and policymakers (Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, Section 968) for distorting regulators? actions in favor of banks. However, other commentators have downplayed these distortions and presented a more benign viewpoint of these worker flows?as a means for regulatory agencies to attract higher-ability and skilled workers. Because data on job transitions in banking regulatory agencies are scarce, these discussions are mostly informed by anecdotes. Our recent paper brings more rigor to this debate by contributing a first set of stylized facts based on data related to incidence and drivers of worker flows in U.S. banking regulation. Our data show clear evidence of higher worker inflows to the regulatory sector during bad economic conditions. When we study worker flows as a function of an enforcement proxy, we find evidence to be inconsistent with the often-cited ?quid-pro-quo? hypothesis. We instead posit an alternative ?regulatory schooling? hypothesis that may better explain the empirical evidence.
AUTHORS: Trebbi, Francesco; Lucca, David O.; Seru, Amit