Wednesday, 16 January 2013


The most recent issue of the Economic and Social Review has a symposium on the politics of financialisation, including papers on the US, a comparative analysis of financialisation and inequality in the OECD and my own paper on”The Crisis of Financialisation in Ireland”.

The table of contents, with links to papers, is here:

The abstract of the Ireland paper is below:

This paper explores the intersection of national and transnational processes in shaping Ireland’s financial crisis. It uses insights from economic sociology to reconcile the analytical tension between an understanding of Ireland’s crisis in terms of the unfolding of an international process and explanations that focus on specific national features. A series of significant policy decisions in the late 1990s favoured financial markets in allocating capital and opened up significant institutional space for speculative lending. Underneath the apparently consistent expansion of the property lending bubble since the mid-1990s, there was a significant shift in investment logics from the early 2000s as both residential and commercial real estate spending became detached from underlying demand. This shift in logic was based on two significant “translations” of investment rationalities into justifications of lending and investment that underpinned the bubble. Irish banks’ own conceptions of risk and rational investments shifted subtly over time so that property lending was translated into a rational investment, encouraged by market dynamics such as increased bank profits, rising share prices and concentration of decision making power in the banking system. At the same time, and in the context of the establishment of the euro, investing in the assets of Irish banks was translated into a rational investment for international banks, in large part through the metrics of the credit ratings agencies. The paper concludes by revisiting the question of how we should understand the specifics of particular financial crises in conjunction with the general dynamics of financialisation – pointing to the importance of “translation” processes in creating social rationalities and the significance of “market liberalism” as a social formation in enabling these translations and promoting financialisation.


Paul Hunt said...

More of the usual academic socialist clpatrap that invests and endows markets with agency powers do they not possess - and by virtue of this false endowment surreptitiously, but equally falsely, endows the 'state' with total virtue and beneficence. It is capitalists who have the agency powers to subvert markets and to suborn elected politicians and appointed officials. And capitalists and their fellow-travellers may be found as much, if not more, on the 'left' as on the the 'right'. Witness the gloriously inefficient financing of almost wholly public-owned semi-state companies in Ireland that imposes excessive and unnecessary cost burdens on citizens and the economy.

Martin O'Dea said...

I agree with absolutely everything you write here (but, claptrap etc is unnecessarily emotional - these are all opinions, most all seem beyond reproach to the holder - and are most likely, at least correct within a certain context.
For example I think everything you say here makes sense and has a nice series of cause and effect, but what jumps out at me as missing is the final part of the regression.

'It is capitalists who have the agency powers to subvet markets and to suborn elected politicians and appointed officials'
This is precisely the point - the only solution to this is to go back the one step remaining and asky why were profit only motivated companies allow to have such major affects on policy and not have the political shift of the 80s and 90s become further entrenched when a crisis has shone a light on glaring policy biases and general faults, and so further a political movement that looks to regain anew sensible market regulation

Paul Hunt said...


We can't wind the clock back. The political shift you mention began in the '70s and was a natural and inevitable reaction to the unconstrained Keynesianism of the previous decades. The median voter shifted rightwards - and was encouraged to shift rightwards. They were encouraged to do so by promises of unachievable and unsustainable avarice and, as a result, voted agianst their interests. The sustained wage repression in developed economies was the inevitable result. And the most gifted, potentially progressive, politicians of this generation - Bill Clinton and Tony Blair - ran before these voters - so they could stay in front.

Their political pygmy successors on the progressive left in all developed economies have lost their bearings - and even if they still possess them (vide Milli Minor in Britain) they lack the political gifts, charisma, gravitas or ability to communicate the necessary conviction to attract sufficient voters to their banner.

All is not lost. A new generation will rise and sweep the ineffectual dinosaurs on the left to their well-deserved extinction and bait the capitalists in their lairs. I'm in Cairo at the moment as a democracy is going through its birth pangs. The energy is palpable and makes one feel alive. It beats the decaying, declining, selfish, introverted West any day.