Michael Schwan (CCCP), Christine Trampusch (CCCP) and Florian Fastenrath (ifso, Universität Duisburg-Essen) (2020): “Financialization of, not by the state: exploring changes in the management of public debt and assets across Europe”, Review of International Political Economy, https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2020.1823452
This paper tackles one of the most recent issues in international and comparative political economy: the process of state financialization. Although research on global financial markets has revealed that states play a crucial role in private sector financialization, until recently, much less attention has been paid to state financialization itself. This includes both the measurement of cross-country variation and the question of why this process unfolds unevenly across political economies. We propose a perspective that focuses on two areas, the management of public debt and assets, and the various ways in which states are active in financial markets. Bridging material and cultural concepts in political economy, we differentiate between the reliance on financial markets as governance mechanism and the adoption of a sense-making framework grounded in financial economics and the shareholder-value model. We distill four indicators, trace cross-national and inter-temporal developments in 36 European countries since 1990, and explore how far this variation is associated with domestic and international political economic factors. The paper concludes that state and private sector financialization are mutually reinforcing processes. In addition, future research must pay strong attention to the tensions between finance and democracy as well as the distributive consequences of state financialization.