Agnes Janssen (2020): "Financial officers, the municipal swap industry and the rise of risky innovations among states", Socio-Economic Review, https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwaa032
At the turn of the millennium, US states started to employ debt-related derivatives. Surprisingly, the prevalence of these instruments among states peaked soon after the first corporate scandals involving such complex financial tools. Why did states embrace swaps? I build on political and sociological arguments and posit that both the industry’s and the state’s interests must be considered. The swaps industry started marketing swaps to treasurers as part of their fee-based business model and in response to declining profits, while governments welcomed swaps as they fit the treasurers’ professional agenda. I test this argument with original data on the initial swaps adoption by US states between 1989 and 2014. The event history analysis lends support for the theory. The findings complement explanations for the rise of risky instruments among states and contribute to the literature on financialization.