Learn about Financial Regulation with iMinds Money's insightful fast knowledge series. Financial regulation, simply put, is the supervision and control of the financial system and entities within it by a government body. It is deemed necessary to prevent abuses or failures within financial systems that affect the public or the stability of the system itself. Regulation is carried out differently in countries around the world. For example, in America there are a number of regulatory bodies for different parts of the financial market, while in the UK there is only one. The US regulatory system is also very rules-based, while the UK system is based more on principals.
Adam Smith, an 18th century Scottish philosopher, described an “invisible hand” that directs free markets. It became a lasting image in economic theory. By pursuing their own self-interests, individual market participants engage in the production and exchange of goods and services to the benefit of the whole. This is the “invisible hand” that guides individuals. It leads the market to operate efficiently and in service of the public good.
While Smith’s image suggests that a perfect market would function without any oversight, realities of the market require government regulation to ensure economic welfare.
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