2018/07/24 – 2018/07/28 – Cologne, Germany – 5th Global Conference on Economic Geography

Members of the Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) will chair a number of sessions at the 5th Global Conference on Economic Geography 2018 in Cologne, Germany. Please find an overview of these sessions in alphabetical order below. Abstracts should be submitted online through the conference website between November 15, 2017 and March 29, 2018.

Banking, firm finance and (uneven) regional development

Chairs: Franz Flögel, Jane Pollard

25 years after Richard O’Brien predicted the “end of geography” in finance we witness substantial changes in the regional provision of finance. On the one hand, the relevance of decentral financial systems and regional banks for firms’ access to finance and balanced regional development is increasingly recognised. In this line, calls for the (re)establishment of regional banks in the UK and elsewhere intensify in response to the credit crunch during the global financial crisis of 2007–2008. Some calls take Germany’s banking system with its more than 1400 regional savings and cooperative banks as a role model. On the other hand, traditional banking is under pressure due to tightened bank regulation and the low interest rates, which caused a strong decline in the number of (regional) banks and branches in most countries. Advances in the financial industry like crowdfunding, fintech, mobile money (i.e., a new round of digitalisation) further question the intermediary function of traditional (regional) banks. Therefore, it is time to revisit banking and its geographical conditions and implications. To this end, the session welcomes empirical, theoretical and conceptual papers on banking, firm finance and regional development including the following topics:

(Retail) banking: spatial development of branches and head offices; access to finance, personal lending / (new forms of) redlining; mortgages finance; digitalisation of banking (e.g. online banking, credit scoring, fintech, mobile money); central bank policy; bank regulation; stability and profitability of banks.

Firm finance: firms’ (spatial uneven) access to finance (e.g. supply and demand analysis); banks’ lending practices to firms; new banking theory, information asymmetries and credit rationing; functional and operational distance; venture capital, crowed funding, alternative finance etc.; Uneven regional development: finance and its interlinkages with aspects of regional development; polarisation and post-Keynesian theory.

Business services in financial globalisation

Chair: James Faulconbridge (Lancaster University)

Co-Chair: Karen Lai (National University of Singapore)

Work on financial geography recognises the important ‘compact’ between financial services and advanced business services (ABS; such as accountancy, law and management consultancy). Put simply, financial globalization is not possible without this finance-ABS nexus. Yet, in recent years, the work that business services do within financial globalisation processes has arguably received less attention than the work of financial institutions themselves. Illustrative of this is the way the growth in interest in theorizing markets has occurred without fully theorizing the role of ABS. In this session we seek to extend discussion of the work that ABS do in financial globalisation. We are particularly interested in understanding the relationships between financial institutions and other business services, the flows of people, knowledge and market-making devices between these sectors, and the material and institutional effects of the work of business services in the production of global financial architectures. Studies outside of the Anglo-American sphere are especially welcome. Papers might address topics such as:

  • The nature of relationships between financial institutions and  ABS and the way these ‘lubricate’ or enable financial globalisation
  • The role of ABS in financialization, markets and/or financial crises
  • The work of ABS in the creation of global financial architectures
  • The significance of ABS activities in reproducing institutional contexts and varieties of capitalism
  • The maturation of ABS firms in Asia-pacific and interactions between Anglo-Saxon global business services and Asian business services firms
  • The way technology is changing the role of business services in financial globalisation (including but not limited to FinTech)

Finance and financialisation in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe

Chair: Martin Sokol

Co-Chair: Zoltán Gál

Financialisation is recognised as a major force that is shaping contemporary capitalist societies and economies, as well as being a leading cause of the recent Global Financial Crisis. There is also growing evidence that financialisation plays a crucial role in (re)producing and exacerbating social and spatial inequalities at various scales. Financialisation thus could be seen as one of the key drivers of the dynamics in an unequal world. However, despite the pivotal role financialisation plays in contemporary economies (and the explosion of literature about it), our understanding of this phenomenon remains limited in many aspects. For one, much of the financialisation research has so far focused on the most advanced (and presumably the most financialised) Western capitalist economies. As a result, we know much less about how financialisation unfolds in other contexts and how these different contexts are interlinked with each other and how this reflects patterns of uneven development and/or economic dependency. Financialisation in Central and Eastern Europe represents a significant lacuna in this regard. Yet, the post-socialist context offers a unique opportunity to study financialisation and its social and spatial implications. Indeed, former state-socialist economies were previously built on a completely opposite logic to that of financialisation. The collapse of state-socialist regimes was followed by a dramatic re-organisation of the entire financial infrastructure and significantly shaped by the involvement of West European banking groups. The post-socialist context thus gives us a chance to study financialisation from a different perspective and to reveal its logics, and its implications, in an alternative light.

This session welcomes both theoretical and empirical papers that will help to build a picture of financialisation in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe and its implications for Europe and for the global political economy more broadly.

Finance and the territorial division of labor in Brazil

Chair: Fabio Betioli Contel

Co-Chair: Mónica Arroyo

The purpose of this session is to present some of the characteristics of the financialization of geographic space, with emphasis on the evolution of the Brazilian territorial division of labor. Since at least the debt crisis in the early 1980s, a number of structural changes have taken place in Latin American countries, which has increased the importance and influence of finance in economic, political and geographical issues. The session intends to discuss some of these changes in the Brazilian territory, highlighting the following processes: the historical dependence of Latin American nations on financial resources from hegemonic countries and the subordinate position of peripherical nations in the international division of labor; the existence of dynamic financial metropoles in the national space, which commands the territorial (national) division of labor; recent privatization and denationalization of banking systems; the strong diffusion of technical systems such as data transmission networks, ATMs, credit and debit card terminals (POS), software and financial applications for smartphones, that have improved performance and expanded the capillarity of financial firms; the increase of the lower income population’s indebtedness, which in turn boosted the process of financial exclusion in Brazilian cities.

Finance, international capital flows and uneven development

Chairs: Britta Klagge (Bonn) and Hans-Martin Zademach (Eichstätt)

Financial actors and markets as well as international flows of capital have been recognized as important drivers of economic as well as social development. Although the theoretically given unlimited fluidity of money – the foreign exchange market for example is deemed to be the most liquid market in the global economy –, they are regularly tied to specific geographical scales. Likewise, the implications of financial sector operations apply to all levels from the global to the local, albeit with different impacts. Hence, local and regional economies are differently integrated into global capital flows and circuits, resulting in uneven financial developments which can, for example, take the form of agglomerations (in financial centres) or marginalisation (e.g. in some peripheral areas).

The session aims to addresses these differences and connections by bringing together conceptual and empirical contributions that might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• The international financial system and the Global South • Capital flows between / within North and South (including the investigation and visualisation of these flows) • Financial actors (e.g. banks, stock exchanges) and the Global South • Technology and financial markets in low-income and emerging economies • Financial institutions and regional development in the Global South • Agriculture and rural finance in emerging and low-income countries • Financial inclusion / exclusion in the Global South • Alternative / diverse economies and spaces of finance • Capital market integrity and financial market stability in low-income and emerging countries • Emerging and low-income economies in the investment strategies of investors.

Please contact Britta Klagge (klagge@uni-bonn.de) and/or Hans-Martin Zademach (zademach@ku.de) if you have any questions about this call. Abstracts (maximum 250 words) should be submitted online through the conference website between November 15, 2017 and March 15, 2018.

Financial geographies of inequality: tracing the circuits, scales, sites and relations of financialization

Chairs: Jane Pollard, Emily Rosenman

Economic geographers have made important contributions to theorising the role of finance and, more specifically, processes of financialization, in the global trend toward increased economic inequality. Topics central to recent scholarship on financialization include the global prevalence of austerity, ongoing attempts to privatize social security, the erosion of labour standards, and the penetration of financial logics, metrics and practices into the nooks and crannies of everyday life. Scholars across the social sciences have also shown how women, the elderly, immigrant populations and racialized minorities have been disproportionately affected by the financial crisis.

A decade on from the 2008 financial crisis, this session seeks to explore the uneven manifestations of finance-led growth and development. We seek papers that explore the circuits, scales, sites and relations of financialization in order to understand how inequality is replicated, reconfigured or entrenched. Inequality is inherently a relation of unevenness; in seeking to trace the social and spatial inequalities produced by financialized capitalism, we seek papers that attempt to capture the particularities of the variegated nature of financialization. Following Katz’s (2001) formulation of the countertopographies of globalization, we encourage papers that draw connections between the places and processes of financialized capitalism.

We welcome both theoretical and empirically-based papers that address themes including (but not limited to):

  • Credit/debt relations
  • Spaces where inequality appears and where it is occluded
  • Financial inclusion and exclusion
  • The unequal distribution of wealth
  • Conceptualising finance and inequality: units of analysis and/or scales at which the relationship between finance and inequality is understood – individual, couple, household, family, neighborhood, city, region?
  • Financing social welfare, the built environment or social reproduction
  • The privatization of profit and the socialization of risk
  • The spatial fix of financial capital
  • The normalization of financial logics- speculation, share-holder, interest/yield

Financial regulation and governance in a world of geofinance

Chair: Gary Dymski

Co-Chair: Sabine Dörry

Soon after systemic financial crises first exploded with unanticipated fury in 2007-08, a patchwork of financial reforms have been passed. The US Congress passed the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the UK approved the Banking Reform Act of 2013, and the Bank for International Settlements intensified reporting and recommended capital-adequacy standards. The European Commission’s 2009 Larosière Report led to the 2012 launch of the European banking union; the recommendations of the European Parliament’s more far-reaching 2014 Liikanen Report have not been implemented. Despite these initiatives, or perhaps because of their inconsistency and the resistance each has met with, the question of what forms of financial regulation and governance can generate stable and economically functional banking and financial systems remains open. Indeed, the consensus of a September 2017 CEPR “10 years after” conference in London was that far too little has been done: global finance still hangs on fragile threads. Financial systems today are characterized by multi-layered spatialities; so geography is at the centre of this question. Sam Woods, CEO of the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority, recognized this in a speech entitled “Geofinance” (4 October 2017). Woods defined geofinance as “the impact of borders, location and distance on the shape of banks, insurers and financial regulation. Put simply: the impact of geography on the geometry of finance, a dynamic we might call geofinance.”

We welcome paper proposals on the following or closely related topics, considered in a geofinancial context:

  • The ring-fencing of retail banking
  • Exchange-traded vs over-the-counter trading of derivatives
  • Electronic trading platforms
  • The past, present, and future of the “money markets” and shadow banking
  • The creation and transfer of risk
  • Capital requirements
  • Systemic risk and lender-of-last-resort capacity
  • Complexity and opacity in megabanking
  • Offshore vs onshore financial operations and income
  • Financial openness of developing economies

Financial Technology (Fintech) and the Spatial Economy

Chair: Eric Knight, University of Sydney

Co-chair: Dariusz Wójcik, University of Oxford

“Fintech” is a relatively new term that is being applied to the convergence of finance and technology to facilitate the creation of innovative financial products and services. The intersection of these two sectors has profound implications for the spatial economy and has a long history. This session seeks to attract papers that wish to explore the economic geography and spatial dimensions of the fin tech economy and emerging issues. Empirical studies are encouraged, but theoretical papers are also welcomed.

Financialization, uneven regional development and labour

Chairs: Michael Miessner, Stefanie Huertgen

The financialization of the economy has been widely discussed in academic discourse since the economic crisis that erupted in 2007. Already 2008 Pike and Pollard (p. 30) emphasized ‘that financialization provides a strong impetus to embed finance in the heart of our understanding of economic geographies’. Nevertheless, the crisis also demonstrated important limits of recently very influential regional development approaches stressing endogenous resources (Hadjimichalis and Hudson 2014). In sum, it can be said that studies on regional uneven development and financialization remain limited, and in particular regional work and production – once at the forefront of regional development theory – still need more attention.

Ten years after Pike and Pollards analysis, we would like to investigate the implications of financialization for regional development, with a special focus on labour and production processes. We invite papers focusing the following or related issues:

  1. Is financialization a ‘profoundly spatial phenomenon’ as French et al (2011: 800) argue? Hence, how can we investigate the spatial implications of financialization?
  2. How is financialization connected to the production and labour process? What does this mean for ‘labour geographies’ (Herod 1997)?
  3. How are labourers included in the financial system? Does the growing ‘debtfarism’ (Hembruff/Soederberg 2015) of labourers implicate any spatial consequences?
  4. What do the financialization of the production and labour process as well as the inclusion of labourers in the financial system entail for regional development? What kind of ‘spatial division of labour’ (Massey 1995) do we face?

Financing Environmental Sustainability

Chairs: Janelle K Knox-Hayes (Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT)

Co-Chair: Sabine Dörry (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research – LISER)

Issues of environmental change and sustainability are increasingly pressing as the human capacity to alter environmental conditions at the regional and global levels continues to expand with increasingly manifest consequences. Humans have long had environmental impacts on the micro scale, and these were relatively concrete to address in planning terms. As human ability to affect the environment on macro scales grows, the ability to shift geography to avoid impacts is radically decreased. At the same time, the ability to adjust to environmental changes and to implement sustainable solutions are increasingly financialized, as the global response to climate change (e.g. carbon markets) suggests. ‘Green investments’ have been gaining weight in global investors’ strategies. Yet, green investments come not without costs. Critics point out that catchphrases such as ‘green economy’, ‘impact investing’ and ‘smart growth’ would only pretend to reconcile the economy with environmental concerns, yet neither abandon the capitalist logic of unending growth nor provide solutions to remedy resource depletion and environmental degradation. In contrast, debates revolving around ‘alternative’ or ‘diverse’ economies question the unbalanced growth- and profit-orientation and address new forms of societal power and control in more socially just and environmentally sustainable economic systems.

This session on finance and environmental sustainability invites conceptual and empirical paper contributions that seek to broaden our understanding of the relationship between finance and geography, and how this link shapes social system responses to environmental processes.

Global finance, development and the new peripheries

Chairs: Leigh Johnson, Patrick Bigger, Stefan Ouma

This session examines the significance of financial relations and transactions in spaces of the global South that have typically been figured as “marginal” to, if not altogether excluded from, the operations of global finance. As finance relentlessly seeks to identify further spatial fixes and revenue streams, this session will probe the particularities of integration. What assemblages and legacies – (post)colonial and otherwise – characterize these spaces? What are the regional coordinates of integration, and the concrete social, political and material landscapes it produces? The optic of “peripheries” – with its roots in dependency theory – highlights the relations of power, subordination and exploitation produced through finance’s expansion and experimentation at its frontiers. As certain places are linked to global flows of capital, they can become peripheralized in new ways. Yet as some “financial innovation” originates in the South and travels to the global North (e.g. mobile money and microfinance) and the South more generally becomes a source of capital (e.g. sovereign wealth or pension funds), existing understandings of peripheralisation must be reexamined. How can the dependent and extraverted notions of development suggested by the term “periphery” be reworked to make a place for heterogenous forms of economic self-fashioning? How might other concepts such as extraction, dispossession, value grabbing, disarticulations and expulsion help render intelligible the new peripheral operations of finance and the place-making projects that emerge from them? We especially invite papers making conceptual advances using empirical cases on topics including but not limited to: Financial inclusion and adverse incorporation; New sites of experimentation and product development; The financialisation of development; Multiple frontiers of peripheral financialisation (e.g. land, nature, housing, manufacturing, IT…); Macroeconomic policies, links between micro and macro scale finance; Relationships between global and “indigenous” financial practices, institutions, and discourses; Rethinking the core(s) of global finance.

Ten years after the global financial crisis: critical reflections on finance and economy

Chair: Karen P.Y. Lai (National University of Singapore)

Co-Chair: Dariusz Wójcik (University of Oxford)

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which many see as a watershed moment in the recent global financial crisis. What started as a loss of liquidity in the markets for complex and opaque mortgage-related instruments led suddenly to the evaporation of funding liquidity for intermediaries holding these securities and crises of confidence in many leading financial institutions. With a decade’s worth of hindsight, this is a propitious moment to review the causes, key actors and variegated impacts of the crisis. Did the global financial crisis reshape the competitive landscape of international financial centres? How should we evaluate the various government responses to the credit crunch, bank failures and damage to the wealth and livelihoods of everyday consumers? Has the global financial crisis changed the ways in which we conceptualise the role of finance in the economy and the economy as a whole? This panel session brings together leading financial and economic geographers to reflect on the contribution of geographical research on the global financial crisis, evaluate its theoretical, empirical and policy impacts, and consider how these studies might shape our future research for understanding the global financial system, financial crises, governance, financialisation, and intersections of finance with politics and society.

The Financialization of the State

Chairs: Laura Deruytter (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), Reijer Hendrikse (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium), Sebastian Möller (University of Bremen, Germany)

Although the state has long been a relatively understudied domain in the burgeoning literature on financialization, over the last couple of years a growing body of empirical work has emerged on the financial entanglements and transformations of specific governments, state agencies, (quasi-) public institutions and their offshoots. This call for papers builds upon this work, and broadly seeks contributions which add empirical flesh to this growing subfield of financialization studies, as well as conceptual perspectives to make sense of the rise of finance – of its products, rationalities, techniques and so forth – in a growing set of public domains; how and why governments and states have themselves been key accelerators of these developments, and how we should understand the ever-changing state-finance nexus. Research areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • The financialization of municipalities and the local state,
  • the financialization of state regulations and sovereignty,
  • unpacking specific government or public policies and rationalities as drivers of financialization,
  • the links between new public management (NPM), or neoliberalization, and the financialization of states,
  • the central role of public accounting, debt or treasury management,
  • politicization of and resistance to the financialization of the state,
  • comparative analyses of processes of state financialization (in space and time),
  • the role of inter- and supranational organizations in pushing forward the financialization of the state,
  • processes of financialization interacting with sub-national state rescaling and local entrepreneurialism,
  • financialization and corporatization of local state enterprises,
  • mechanisms and networks of private and public agents facilitating the diffusion of financialized state practices, and so forth.

We are hoping for a broad range of contributions in terms of geographical scope, policy areas, theoretical approaches and methods. Please submit an abstract (max. 250 words) until 15th March 2018 to Laura.Deruytter@vub.be, Reijer.Hendrikse@vub.be and smoeller@uni-bremen.de.

The geo-economics and geo-politics of global financial networks

Chair: Sabine Dörry (Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research – LISER)

Co-Chair: Dariusz Wójcik (University of Oxford)

Contemporary financial capitalism calls for a thorough and profound investigation of finance and finance-related industries, and their distinct spatial impacts and manifestations across scales. Geographies of finance are expressed, among other manifestations, through a dense and powerful archipelago of international financial centres (IFCs), their urban concentrations of firms in the financial and business services sector, financial ‘arbitrage spaces’ between off- and onshore IFCs operated by powerful global services firm networks, and far-reaching alterations by the digital revolution. Global financial networks understood in this way have crucial implications for growth and innovation, social and spatial inequalities, economic stability, and sustainable development at large.

This session invites conceptual and empirical paper contributions that seek to broaden our understanding of both the geo-economics and the geo-politics of contemporary finance. This includes, for example, analyses of the underlying causes – including financialisation, the global financial crisis and the Eurozone crisis –, as well as key agents – like the state, regulators, financial and business services, offshore jurisdictions, and fintech firms – that have been shaping and responding to, but also affected by, the in-/stabilities and unprecedented dynamics of global finance. How is the map of global financial networks being redrawn, and with what effects on the development of cities, regions, countries and globally? Can we observe or should we expect that the new financial regulation, the rise of the Global South, and the digital (r)evolution in finance, to name but a few major trends, generates new forms of global, national and local financial governance?

The role of finance in uneven development

Chairs: Ewa Karwowski (Hertfordshire Business School), Nadine Reis (University of Bonn)

This session questions the benevolent and growth-enhancing role of finance in development. It aims to critically reflect on the links and interaction between finance, financialisation and development.

The role of finance in the uneven development of countries and regions across the globe is central and continues to be debated by leading world systems theorists, geographers and dependency thinkers (Harvey 1989, Arrighi 1994, Higginbottom 2013, Fischer 2015). Economic and political shifts have led to the rise and growth of financial sectors across rich countries since the 1980s, but adverse effects of financial innovation and financial sector growth have largely been neglected by policymakers and mainstream economists. There is disagreement about appropriate theoretical concepts such as ‘financialisation’ and ‘financial deepening’. Financial development or financial deepening has been promoted as growth-enhancing by orthodox economists and the international financial institutions (IFIs) (Levine & King 1993, Levine 2005). By contrast, heterodox scholars have argued that financialisation is a new major dimension of unequal development on an international scale, since it has affected countries in the global periphery in different ways than core economies (Lapavitsas 2009, Painceira 2009, Becker et al. 2010, Powell 2013, Soederberg 2014, Akyüz 2017).

While the empirical track record suggested that poorer countries integrated into global financial structures are increasingly exposed to financial and exchange rate crises (Dymski 1998; Arestis & Glickman 2001), it needed a deep financial crisis in rich countries to force a reassessment amongst mainstream economists and IFIs (de la Torre and Ize 2011, Arcand et al. 2012, Cecchetti and Kharroubi 2012, Sahay et al. 2015). Even following this reconsideration of existing theories the possibility of financial dependency and uneven development driven by finance is rarely explored in mainstream policy and academic discourses. We invite innovative theoretical and empirical contributions that address the links between finance, financialisation, development and their interactions from a North-South perspective, and/or with a view on the global periphery. Papers should tackle some of the following questions:

  • What is the role of finance in the creation and perpetuation of uneven development?
  • What constitutes financial dependency today, and how does financial dependency play out in the relationship between the Global South and the Global North?
  • Are lines of demarcation of North and South, centre and periphery, shifting with financialization?
  • How does financialization affect economic development in the Global South?
  • (How) Does financialization create particular economic landscapes in the Global South?
  • What are the specificities of financialization in the Global South?
  • What are the class relations underpinning processes of financialization in the Global South?
  • How do financialisation and financial deepening relate and differ?
  • What can or should economic geography contribute to the study of finance in the Global South?
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