It is often argued that international financial regulation has been substantially strengthened over the past decades through the international harmonization of financial regulation. There are, however, still frequent outbreaks of painful financial crises, including the recent 2008 global financial crisis. This raises doubts about the conventional claims of the strengthening of international financial regulation.

This book provides an in-depth political economy study of the adoptions in Japan, Korea and Taiwan of the 1988 Basel Capital Accord, the now so-called Basel I, which has been at the center of international banking regulation over the past three decades, highlighting the domestic politics surrounding it. The book illustrates that, despite banks’ formal compliance with the Accord in these countries, their compliance was often cosmetic due to extensive regulatory forbearance that allowed their real capital soundness to weaken. Domestic politics thus ultimately determined national implementations of the Accord. This book provides its novel innovative study of the Accord through scores of interviews with bank regulators and analysis of various primary documents. It suggests that the actual effectiveness of international financial regulation relies ultimately on the domestic politics surrounding it. It implies as well that the past trend of international harmonization of financial regulation may be illusory, to at least some extent, in terms of its actual effectiveness.

This book may interest not only political economists but also scholars working on the intersection of law, economics and institutions.

chapter 1|20 pages


International harmonization and domestic politics in passive adopters

part I|47 pages


chapter 2|18 pages

Creation of the 1988 Basel Accord

chapter 3|12 pages

Non-committee members prior to the Accord

chapter 4|15 pages

External pressures for Accord compliance

part II|86 pages


chapter 5|24 pages


Persistent cosmetic compliance

chapter 6|24 pages

South Korea

A shift from cosmetic to more effective compliance

chapter 7|22 pages


Weakening effective compliance

chapter 8|14 pages