Institutional independence and social media

Providing real-time, market-based evidence on threats to institutional independence

With the rise of political polarisation and populism in recent election cycles, attacks on national and international independent institutions (Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation) have increased. Analysing market-implied expectations around attacks by political leaders allows assessment of the credibility and severity of these statements; this research expects the attacks to be more prevalent in developing countries with weaker executive oversight, either through limited parliamentary opposition or less media independence.

The intervention

The objective of this study is to provide real-time, market-based evidence on threats to institutional independence. Utilising a unique panel dataset of politicians on social media from over 100 countries, this research systematically analyses the impact of political pressure on central banks, the judiciary and news organisations, using market-based, asset-pricing evidence. This identification strategy exploits a short time window around the precise timestamp of politicians on social media in conjunction with tick-by-tick, asset-pricing data.

The Impact

This research hopes to identify political pressure on independent institutions across the globe and reinforce separation of power by providing a real-time index that systematically identifies attacks on constitutional independence. Strengthening independent institutions and judicial systems is likely to increase legal certainty and security, which is crucial for expanding business activity and attracting new investment in developing countries.


  • Thilo Kind, PhD student, Finance, cohort 2015, London Business School

Howard Kung is Assistant Professor of Finance at London Business School. Kung conducts research at the intersection of asset pricing and macroeconomics. His recent research studies how firms’ innovation decisions impact economic growth and asset markets, how changes in uncertainty affect firm investment decisions, and how restructuring the maturity structure of government debt can stimulate the economy.

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