2021/09/27 – Rex A. McKenzie “Wealth Chain Property Investment in the hinterland – evidence from the Merseyside area in the Northwest of England”

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In this paper, we estimate and evaluate the scale and impact of wealth chain investment coming from offshore jurisdictions in a deprived urban context, focusing on the purchase of real estate in the Merseyside Area in the Northwest of England. We use HM Land Registry property sales data alongside the insights of local councillors, housing activists, and academics to identify the role of offshore finance in the area. We highlight how methods of anonymous purchasing and the quest for above normal rents operate even within a context of the depressed house, commercial, and other land values. The study contributes an empirical case study helping to give empirical flesh to the bones of emerging discussions regarding the role of offshore finance in regional economies, even in highly deprived locales that nevertheless appear to offer significant opportunities for rental income and tax-avoiding capital operations.

Co-authored by Roland Atkinson, Sheffield University, UK; Sharda Rozena, Leicester University, UK; Andrea Ingianni, Kingston University, UK

Rex McKenzie was trained at the New School for Social Research in New York USA. His 2006 Ph.D. thesis was entitled Three Essays in the Political Economy of the English Speaking Caribbean. He has held Lecturer, Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher posts in Economics at the University of Technology, Kingston, Jamaica, Purchase College, SUNY, New York, USA, and the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Before academia, he was a professional Foreign Exchange Dealer for sixteen years and this professional experience connects to his research activities in the area of the Global Political Economy.

He is a 2021-2022 Trust for London (TFL) grantee and lead the Wealth Chains Project (WCP). The WCP is a collaboration of social science researchers from different universities aimed at gaining a greater understanding of the relationship between property investment coming from offshore tax havens and socio-economic inequality in London.

Chair: Manuel Aalbers, KU Leuven, Belgium

Manuel B. Aalbers is professor of Human Geography at KU Leuven, the University of Leuven (Belgium) where he leads a research group on the intersection of real estate, finance and states. He has also published on financialization, redlining, social and financial exclusion, neoliberalism, mortgage markets, the privatization of social housing, neighborhood decline and gentrification. He is the author of Place, Exclusion, and Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and The Financialization of Housing: A Political Economy Approach (Routledge, 2016) and the editor of Subprime Cities: The Political Economy of Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). He is also the associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (Sage, 2010) and editor-in-chief of geography journal TESG. Most of his papers can be downloaded from https://kuleuven.academia.edu/ManuelAalbers. Finally, Manuel is also one of the founding members of FinGeo.net, the Global Network on Financial Geography.

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