A Theory of Entangled Political Economy, with Application to TARP and NRA

February 12, 2010

The recent financial crisis has provoked a raft of contending claims as to whether the cause of the crisis is better attributed to market failure or political failure. Such claims are predicated on a presumption that markets and polities are meaningfully separate entities. To the contrary, we argue that contemporary arrangements create an entangled political economy that renders theorizing based on separation often misleading. Within this alternative framework of entangled political economy, questions of market or polity as the source of crisis recede into the analytical background. What comes into the foreground is recognition that crisis is a systemic feature of a system of deeply entangled political economy. Control over such crises is thus more a matter of constitutional-level endeavors to curb the extent of entanglement. We use this framework of entangled political economy to illuminate both the recent Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and the New Deal’s National Recovery Act (NRA).