Capturing Benefits, Avoiding Losses: the United States, Japan and the Politics of Constraint

  • Philip G. Cerny
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The United States and Japan represent polar types of so-called ‘national models of capitalism’. For reasons unique to their respective histories, their industrial organizations, financial systems, labor market structures, and patterns of state intervention, have taken on contrasting forms. As the authors in this book argue, globalization and the complex processes that make it up involve the accumulation of a range of pressures — economic, political, and social — that present challenges to the way national models work. Some national political systems, especially those of the United States and the United Kingdom, are widely seen to be in the vanguard of such changes as the result of the relative correspondence of their internal economic and social institutions and practices with emerging international and transnational patterns. Other systems, that of Japan in particular, are seen to be less structurally congenial, characterized by embedded institutions and practices that sustain and reinforce resistance to those patterns. These differences are often summoned up in the distinction between the ‘arm’s-length’ American model and the Japanese ‘strategic’ or ‘developmental’ state (Johnson, 1982; Zysman, 1983).


Financial Market Financial System Foreign Firm Liberal Democratic Party National Model 
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Further reading

  1. The best overall comparative political economy treatments of regulatory systems in general, and financial systems in particular, are John Zysman’s classic Governments, Markets, and Growth: Financial Systems and the Politics of Industrial Change (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983);Google Scholar
  2. Steven K. Vogel’s Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Industrial Countries (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
  3. and Henry Laurence’s Money Rules: The New Politics of Finance in Britain and Japan (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2001). More recently, however, Susanne Lütz’s comparative study of the United States, Britain, and Germany is the definitive comparative work (although it doesn’t include Japan): ‘Convergence Within National Diversity: The Regulatory State in Finance’, Journal of Public Policy 24(2) (August 2004), 169–19.Google Scholar
  4. On the United States, see the author’s ‘Money and Power: The American Financial System from Free Banking to Global Competition’, in Grahame Thompson (ed.), Markets, vol. 2 of The United States in the Twentieth Century (London: Hodder and Stoughton for the Open University, 2nd edition, 2000) pp. 169–207, and Helen A. Garten, US Financial Regulation and the Level Playing Field (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. On Japan, see the authoritative works of Richard Katz: Japan, The System That Soured: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Miracle (Armonk, NY and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1998); and its sequel, Japanese Phoenix: The Long Road to Economic Revival (M.E. Sharpe, 2003), as well as the author’s ‘Governance, Globalization and the Japanese Financial System: Resistance or Restructuring?’, in Glenn Hook (ed.), Contested Governance in Japan (London: Routledge, 2005).Google Scholar

Useful websites

  1. <> Institute of International Finance
  2. <> United States Securities and Exchange Commission
  3. <> United States Department of the Treasury
  4. <> Federal Reserve System
  5. <> Japan’s Financial Services Agency
  6. <> Ministry of Finance
  7. <> Bank of Japan
  8. Very expensive, but also very useful, is the monthly business publication Financial Regulation International (London: Informa Magazine Publishing). Indispensable news sources include, of course, the Financial Times, but also the English-language Nikkei Weekly.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Philip G. Cerny 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip G. Cerny

There are no affiliations available

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