On the occasion of the GFC’s 10th anniversary in 2017, Mary Callahan Erdoes, chief executive at JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management, announced that ‘the next unprecedented crisis will hit us unexpectedly’. Yet, when does a ‘crisis’ start and when does it end if ‘everything monetary or financial … appears to be always “in crisis”’ (p. 2)? Money and Finance after the Crisis argues that while ‘crisis’ in our capitalist system is no longer an exceptional event but ‘endemic, even constitutive’ and a ‘key [category] through which we narrate modernity’ (p. 2), ‘crisis’ as an analytical instrument and terminology ‘has lost some purchase’ (p. 2). This book addresses this gap and organizes its argument in three main parts: Financial Imaginaries (Chapters 2–4), a theoretical scrutiny of the hegemonic constituent ideas and knowledges, Financial Practices (Chapters 5 and 6), critical studies of the calculative practices and shifting notions of financial risk, and Financialization (Chapters 7–9) with an analytical focus on the intensification of financial logics and dynamics. The editors’ comprehensive introduction that, among others, skilfully settles the accounts with (failed concepts of) mainstream economics and insightfully discusses the role of state actors before, during and ‘after’ the crisis, forms the basis for the ‘multidisciplinary collection’ of eight subsequent chapters. Chapter 2, by Bryan, Rafferty and Wigan, elaborates adeptly on the imbalanced power relationships between globally mobile, liquid financial activities, and, representing the other side of the same coin, illiquid, immobile households that are the ‘shock absorber of last resort’ of a nation state. Quintessentially, the authors argue that the international taxonomy of mobile capital (‘investment nation’) saps the national taxonomy of economic activity (‘geographical nation’), which continuously destabilizes the (finance) capitalist system. Chapter 3 by Paul Langley illustrates how elite networks from New York to London have continuously sustained and legitimized the move of commodified, high-risk credit–debt relations into secondary and derivatives markets beyond political scrutiny, and concomitantly benefitted from state intervention. Chapter 4 by Gary Dymski makes a powerful claim for a ‘Keynesian geography’. He argues that the incorporation of financial instability into geographical thinking would not only help to bridge the essentially disparate scholarship of economic geography and economics, but also inject the long overdue debate into the realm of (failed) hegemonic orthodox economic ideas. Chapters 5 and 6 add highly insightful empirical evidence. Marieke de Goede focusses on the shifting spatialities of international ‘financial warfare’. She explores how newly ‘assemblaged’ private financial and US administrative governmental power succeeded in amplifying jurisdictional reach to combat dollar-denominated terrorism financing across all spatial and policy scales. Deborah James analyses how land reforms in South Africa are undermined by a ‘credit apartheid’. By linking the processes of land and credit reforms, she shows the underlying practices of inclusion and exclusion inherent in the system. Chapters 7–9 form the final part of the book. Phil O’Neill probes the privatization of urban infrastructure and the resulting deterioration of both quality and equality of urban living. When urban infrastructure becomes a financial asset to generate steady income, he shows, a city’s ‘liveability’ is increasingly under threat. Jessica Dempsey examines processes of financialization of nature and in biodiversity conservation. She remains, however, inconclusive and provokes instead with the question whether a more robust flow of profit-seeking finance capital into conservation might counter the sluggish state response to the sixth extinction. Lai and Daniels place banks as active agents of a progressively financialized capitalist production in Singapore. Yet, they argue that banks only re-acted in complying to the state’s changing economic strategy and regional aspirations. As a result, local banks transformed into international financial services corporations. Money and Finance after the Crisis is a highly recommended read. It features comprehensive, innovative research and teases out a number of thorny issues revolving around the ‘crisis’ as a suitable analytical concept. In this regard, the book offers many strong points. It breaks with established categories and lines of thoughts linked with concepts of (financial) crisis. Editors and contributors offer a wealth of fresh, innovative angles for critical investigation to grasp and re-interpret the essences of ‘proliferating monetary and financial incarnations’ (p. 32) and their dynamic spatialities. Space limitation allows me to mention only Bryan et al.’s superb conceptualization of the discordant financial taxonomies between the investment nation and the geographical nation. Another great value of this book resides in the excellent fit between the editors’ insightful introduction and the carefully selected case studies that go beyond the ‘usual suspects’. Both allow for making new, even surprising connections and strengthen the book’s overall argument. In a sympathetic critique, however, readers might wish that the editors (and contributors) had delved even deeper to carve out the distinct role of the state and its agencies in re-/creating a financialized, crisis-prone social, economic and spatial architecture that shapes contemporary capitalism. Clearly, the editors superbly assess the crisis-susceptibility of financial markets through, e.g. cooperative state–markets relationships, the shift to fee-based financial business models and the design of financial-risk landscapes via institutions, practices and instruments. Yet, the financialization of the state itself, that is, its fiscal and monetary policies, has been a significant lever (Aalbers, 2017; Karwowski and Centurion-Vicencio, 2018) that remains underexplored. Not least the sheer scale of states’ debt-financing (government bond markets), but also a push by European monetary policy-makers for ‘market-based’, ‘securitized’ banking makes states crucial actors in the production and stabilization of an unstable—crisis-prone—financial capitalist regime. Many contributions in Money and Finance after the Crisis implicitly touch upon the state’s active role and strategies to create favourable environments to deepen financial motives and practices. The chapters by de Goede, O’Neill and Lai and Daniels exemplify and illustrate that not only the state but also supra-state entities like the EU and more specific state institutions like treasuries and community governments pursue their own motives and strategies with regard to financial markets. To understand the mechanisms that so crucially define the relationships between agents, i.e. the (financialized) state and the financial institutions require further analytical scrutiny. Crisis no longer fits the notion of the ‘exception to normality’, on which old concepts of it rest. Money and Finance after the Crisis essentially contributes to reconceptualizing ‘crisis’ with a substantiated assessment of the relations between ideas, narratives and practices that have been conveying the financial ‘crisis’. This book is a strong signpost for a multidisciplinary project that seeks to not only unpack and inject ‘finance’ more closely into the conceptual foundations of a much larger variety of social sciences than just economics, but also—to end with an optimistic note—to bring finance back to the service of broader societal goals in a ‘post’-crisis world. References Aalbers M. ( 2017 ) Corporate financialization. In: Richardson D. , Castree N. , Goodchild M. , Kobayashi A. , Marston R. (eds) The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology , pp. 1–11. Oxford : Wiley . Karwowski E. , Centurion-Vicencio M. ( 2018 ) Financialising the state: recent developments in fiscal and monetary policy. Financial Geography Working Paper No. 11. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of Economic Geography – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 28, 2018
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