Crises, Anti-Finance Opinions and Populisms in Europe

Project Start:06/2020
Researchers:Elsa Massoc, Tobias Tröger
Category: Financial Intermediation
Funded by:SAFE

"On March 7 2009, President Obama summoned the thirteen largest US banks’ top managers after they had announced record bonuses for their traders. He warned them: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks”. The imagery of people’s anger against the bankers is as old as the existence of financial crises itself. Although it seems to be common knowledge that anti-finance opinions are related to financial crises and that they may affect policymaking, the scholarship examining the relations between crises, anti-finance opinions and “populist” policymaking is scarce.


What groups of actors profess anti-finance opinions, how these opinions vary substantively, across times, across audiences and across places, the effects of these opinions on economic policymaking and on politics in general, as well as the mechanisms through which they may have an effect, are not well understood. My project intends to fill this gap.


The research questions that this project addresses are the following:

•-  Why some anti-finance discourses become politically more salient in some segments / times / places and not others? What types of crises are more likely to trigger anti-finance opinions?

•-  What are the feedback loops between anti-finance sentiments across different segments of a political economy: the public, mainstream media, organized civil society, political parties and state actors?

•-  What are the consequences of anti-finance opinions on “populist” economic policymaking, but also in the structuration of populist dynamics at the national and European level?


I envision to develop a multi-method research design including one comparative case study, one survey experiment and a large-scaled social media data analysis.

Selected country cases are characterised by different typical financial systems, different political institutions as well as with different histories of populism, anti-Semitism and anti-elitism: Germany, France, Italy and the UK.