I am very excited for my upcoming seminar with the Leiden Political Economy Group. I will be presenting the introductory chapter of the Routledge International Handbook of Financialization. It’s the first of hopefully many book events in the coming months!
Philip Mader and I will be presenting (for the first time!) the introductory chapter for the Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, which we wrote together with Daniel Mertens, on May 23 in London. Our talk is part of a one-day workshop at the Open University, organized by Pauline Gleadle and Stuart Parris, on the conceptualization and operationalization of financialization.
More information, including the possibility to register for the workshop, can be found here.
I’m very happy to see the new edited volume by Dennie Oude Nijhuis, Business Interests and the Development of the Modern Welfare State, is coming out in July 2019. The volume offers “a synthesis on the question of business attitudes towards and its influence over the development of the modern welfare state.” Chapters consist of both historical country case studies and comparative chapters with country focus on Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Policy aras covered include active labor market policies, educational policies, employment protection legislation, healthcare, private pension programs, and work‐family policies.
My own chapter in this volume explores how the financialization of the political economy during the last quarter of the 20th century has influenced business preferences for occupational pensions. I argue that capital funding has important ramifications for business preferences towards occupational pensions. With capital funding, the extent to which these plans can protect against the social risks associated with old age has become partially dependent on the financial risks stemming from capital funding. Financialization thus turns an influential argument in the business interests scholarship on its head, namely that, depending on size and industry, employers might be willing to incur higher risks to gain more control over social welfare provisions: as financialization reduces the possibilities for control over occupational pension provisions, employers will be more likely to adopt political preferences aimed at risk reduction. My argument builds on a comparative case study of business groups in the United States and the Netherlands.
I am very pleased to announce that the discussion forum on “new approaches in political economy” is now available here on the Socio-Economic Review website. The forum brings together essays by Bruno Amable, Aidan Regan, Sabina Avdagic, Lucio Baccaro on Jonas Pontusson, and myself on new developments within the field of (comparative) political economy. The forum is a continuation of our discussion started at the 2018 SASE Meeting in Kyoto. Or, per the abstract:
“The discussion on ‘New Approaches to Political Economy (PE)’ gives us a state-of-the-art overview of the main theoretical and conceptual developments within the concept of political economy. Thereby, it invites us to broaden our knowledge regarding manifold novel approaches, which make use of more complex methods to study the less stable, less predictable, but faster changing realities of smaller or bigger geographical regions. In this discussion forum, Amable takes a closer look on the nature of ‘conflict’ as well as the relationship between conflict and institutional change or stability. After stressing the relevance of comparative capitalism in general, Regan also zooms in on the political conflicts in comparative political economy from three different perspectives (electoral politics, organized interest groups and business-state elites), where he finds new avenues, tensions and research agendas are opening up. From a different perspective, Avdagic reviews the broad developments in the field of political economy with respect to the supply and demand side of redistributive policy. Thereafter, Baccaro and Pontusson sketch an alternative ‘growth model perspective’, which puts demand and distribution at the center of the analysis. Finally, Van der Zwan analyses the usefulness of financialization studies for the study of (comparative) political economy.”
On January 25, Tobias Wiß (Johannes Kepler University Linz) and I will be presenting our paper “Pension Funds and Sustainable Investment: Comparing Regulation in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands” (with Karen Anderson, University College Dublin) during the Netspar International Pension Workshop in Leiden.
Our paper reports the first findings of a Netspar-funded research project on the regulation of sustainable investment by funded pension schemes. In this study, we use insights from comparative political economy and financialization studies to direct attention to the institutional underpinnings of pension schemes’ investment behaviour. The starting point of the paper is the assumption that regulation either incentivizes or discourages sustainable by pension funds. We furthermore assume that the type of regulation present in a pension system is influenced by institutional characteristics, such as the history of the pension system, the capitalization of the second pillar, the vehicles for pension provision, and the mode of governance. The paper employs a broad conceptualization of regulation, incorporating 1) national legislation, 2) regulatory activities by supervisory agencies and 3) self-regulation by the pension sector itself.
In all three countries, there is a growing sense that sustainability is related to (positive) return and that pension schemes, as other groups of politics, the society and the economy, need to take on responsibility for future sustainability, especially in times of climate change. Nonetheless, we do find substantial differences with regard to the regulation of sustainable investment by pension funds: highly developed in the Netherlands, moderately developed in Denmark and underdeveloped in Germany. In none of the cases, legal requirements for sustainable investment exist. Pension investments in all three cases are guided by the prudent person rule, although other rules may exist (e.g. ban on cluster munition in the Netherlands, quantitative restrictions in Germany). The Netherlands stands out as the only case, where 1) the industry has initiated self-regulation on sustainable investment and 2) where the regulator is developing a more all-encompassing attitude towards financial risk, that for instance also includes climate risk. Finally, we find that fund-level activities toward ESG investments are considerable in the Netherlands and Denmark and rather moderate in Germany.
In the coming months, we’ll be revising our paper before it will be published as a Netspar working paper. Keep on an eye on this website or our project page on ResearchGate for any updates.
I have written a review of Joseph Vogl’s book The Ascendancy of Finance (Polity, 2017). Read it here or below: