Erin Lockwood
Assistant Professor, Political Science
SSPB 5279

Research Areas

International political economy; global financial politics; financial derivatives; regulation; risk and uncertainty; power, authority, and legitimacy in international politics

Professional Bio

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 2017 and both a B.A. in International Studies and a B.S. in Economics from American University in 2011.

My research is on the social relations and practices that contribute to the legitimacy of global derivatives markets and the enduring authority of financial actors following the 2007-2009 financial crisis. My most recent project examines the construction and regulation of over-the-counter derivatives markets before and after the crisis. It addresses two specific questions: How did the market for derivatives traded outside traditional exchanges grow so large and crisis-prone with so little public regulation? And, why, given derivatives’ contribution to the 2008 financial crisis, were post-crisis regulatory reforms so limited? I argue that the answer lies in the authority of financial market actors and in public regulators’ perception of them as competent managers of risk, based on a set of practices that assured regulators that banks were limiting losses, guarding against default, and pricing assets accurately. My conclusions are based on an interpretive analysis of an original body of primary source regulatory and industry speeches, testimony, and reports. I find that particular market practices, including risk models and standardized contracts, made regulators overly confident in the benefits of derivatives and the abilities of market actors to prevent crises. Many of these practices failed to prevent systemic contagion during the crisis, but because they were so deeply entrenched in the operation of the market, the space for regulatory change was and remains highly constrained.

I am also interested in the consequences of central bank norms and policies, as propagated through both formal and informal institutions, for the developing world; in the history of the Bank for International Settlements and its role in financial oversight and stability; and in political dynamics in other (non-financial) environments characterized by incalculable uncertainty, such as international security.