Meredith Wilf

Assistant Professor

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA)
University of Pittsburgh


Three related research areas all lie at the intersection of international organizations and international political economy.  My work examines the nature of international cooperation among states regarding international financial regulations (area 1), developing countries' national policy decisions regarding financial regulations and institutions (area 2), and issues of international organizational membership and individual preferences toward financial regulation (area 3).     

Area 1: International financial cooperation regarding financial regulations

Area 2: National-level financial regulatory policy

  • "Selecting Regulatory Capacity: National Bank Supervision in International Markets"
  • "Financial Globalization and Domestic Regulatory Adoption of Basel I"

Area 3: International political economy and international institutions


Credibility and Distributional Effects of International Banking Regulations: Evidence from US Bank Stock Returns 


International Organization  

Volume 70, Issue 4, pages 763--796


Financial regulatory networks are a pervasive, new type of global governance heralded by some as a flexible answer to globalization dilemmas and dismissed by others as ineffective due to weak enforcement mechanisms. Whether regulatory network agreements provide global public goods or private goods for certain states' firms is a second debated issue. This paper adjudicates among competing perspectives by examining whether Basel III, an international agreement negotiated by the bank regulatory network about bank capital minimums in 2009 and 2010, was viewed as credible and affecting regulated US firms. I use stock returns to measure investors' perceptions, and an event study methodology to test whether regulated banks' observed stock returns significantly differ from expected stock returns on days when new information about Basel III becomes available. If the agreement is viewed as credible and affecting firm value, banks' stock returns will deviate from expectations. The direction of any deviation indicates whether regulations benefit or hurt banks. While the direction of effects is not uniform across events, I find that the initial stock return reaction and the net effect across all five events are negative, indicating that US banks were not helped by new international regulations. Further, US banks experienced stock returns that differed from expectations, providing evidence that international regulatory network agreements are viewed as credible and tangibly affect firms independent of domestic implementation.

Joining the Club: Accession to the GATT/WTO (with Christina L. Davis)


Journal of Politics

Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 964--978


Which states join international institutions? Existing theories of the multilateral trade regime emphasize gains from cooperation on substantive policies regulated by the institution. We argue that political ties rather than issue-area functional gains determine who joins, and we show how geopolitical alignment shapes the demand and supply sides of membership. Discretionary accession rules allow members to selectively recruit some countries in pursuit of foreign policy goals, and common interests attract applicants who are not yet free traders. In statistical analysis of accession from 1948 through 2014, we use a duration model to estimate time to application and the length of accession negotiations. Our findings challenge the view that states first liberalize trade to join the regime. Instead, democracy and foreign policy similarity encourage states to join. The importance of political ties for membership in the trade regime suggests that theories of international institutions must look beyond narrowly defined institutional scope.

Interdependence, Networks, and Public Preferences (with Stephen Chaudoin)

(revise and resubmit, Foreign Policy Analysis)


What logics underlie citizen preferences? While policy support is often derived from models that emphasize direct effects on personal welfare (e.g. Heckscher-Ohlin, Ricardo-Viner), for many regulatory policies -- like financial regulations -- direct effect models yield unclear predictions while indirect policy effects – such as a policy's interdependent effect on reciprocal foreign policies or on the global economic network as a whole -- are more clear. This paper examines how citizens respond to distinct logics about policy externalities. An original survey experiment compares US citizen support toward US financial regulations when respondents receive different arguments -- direct, interdependent, or network -- about the policy's positive effects. Respondents consistently and most strongly supported regulations when provided with the network logic argument. This argument increased support even among respondents least likely to support regulations (e.g. conservatives), and did so to a greater magnitude than the direct logic argument. Interdependence arguments did not significantly increase support for regulation. We also identified theoretical sources of heterogeneity across citizens and find some evidence that folk realism moderates the degree to which respondents believe the interdependent argument's causal chain. We examined the possibility, but found little evidence, that respondents' degrees of ethnocentrism might reflect utility about foreign policy effects. Our results suggest that interdependent and networked perspectives toward the structure of the global economy represent a promising avenue to further understand public preferences over economic policies.

Selecting Regulatory Capacity: National Bank Supervision in International Markets

(working paper available from author upon request)


What explains the trend among developing countries to adopt independent domestic bank supervision -- the objective implementation of prudential policies for bank operations? While existing literature expects independent bank supervision emerges in reaction to demands of international institutions or to decisions of competitor states, this paper instead argues that political executives lead adoption in a proactive way. Executives hold policy levers to establish independence and, at the beginning of their tenures have incentives to build goodwill with international finance, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), by proactively signaling intentions to cooperate with international norms. Survival analysis examines 62 middle income countries' experiences over the period 1991 through 2005. New executives are systematically associated with increased likelihood of establishing independent bank supervision, while there is less evidence for the role of IMF conditionality or competitive diffusion.  A case study of Turkey since 1991 illustrates the key role that executives play. This paper is relevant to the broader literature on developing country compliance with international financial standards, which is interested to distinguish between material noncompliance that results from lack of bureaucratic capacity distinct from domestic interference.


Thank you