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Fact Sheet: Trade Agreements Limits on Financial Regulations

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Foreclosed homes. Lost jobs. Collapsing banks. The greatest government involvement in the economy in generations. While
these headlines dominated the news of 2008-2009, a root cause of the global financial crisis was largely ignored: during the decades
leading to the crisis, the U.S. government and corporations had pushed extreme financial deregulation worldwide using “trade” agreements.

Starting in the late 1980s, the U.S. government and corporations pushed to redefine “finance” from a service that supports the real
economy to a tradable commodity whose flow across borders should be uninhibited. They successfully pushed for financial
services to be included in “trade” negotiations, including those establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO). “The sector was
truly unique in that respect, and there is little doubt within the trade policy community that financial sector support in the European
Union and the United States was a determining force in concluding the FSA [WTO Financial Services Agreement],” notes a study posted on the WTO’s own website.