CFP: ECPR General Conference

3621486017_55be943c58_bPhoto credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis

Together with Daniel Mertens, I am co-organizing one of the panels at the 2019 ECPR General Conference in Section 11: Changing Political Economies and Welfare States. Our panel aims to analyze comparatively how the welfare state and the financial system are mutually intertwined, adopting a broader conception of finance which includes not just financial actors and their interest organizations, but also financial ideas and narratives.

From the CFP: “Scholars of the welfare state have shown how traditional welfare arrangements are challenged by new kinds of risks that have emerged in the late twentieth century. Among these risks is the process of financialization. It refers to the growing influence of financial markets and financial actors over the productive economy and over society at large, affecting the welfare state in several ways. For instance, welfare provisions may rely on financial market investment for funding while financial arrangements have also been touted as alternative sources of welfare (e.g. through asset-based welfare) and governments have developed new financial activities in order to maintain current welfare provisions. Furthermore, several indirect effects of financialization affect the sustainability of mature welfare states, such as growing indebtedness and social-economic inequalities.

Against this background, the panel has two aims: First, it hopes to reintegrate scholarship on welfare and finance to come to a better understanding of how the welfare state and the financial system are mutually intertwined, both historically and comparatively. Furthermore, we hope to approach the panel theme using a broader conception of finance: to include not just financial actors and their interest organizations, but also financial ideas and narratives, norms and practices that interact at different scales of the modern polity.”

Check out the CFP here!

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Filed under ECPR, Events, Financialization, Welfare State

Upcoming Talk: NIAS Seminar

This Thursday, I will be presenting new research in the seminar series of the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies.

My paper presents a historical case study of the investment politics of Dutch pension fund for public employees, ABP (Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds). Combining both quantitative and qualitative analysis, the research maps the financial flows between ABP and the broader political economy before and after WW2, while at the same time shedding light on the political considerations that informed the fund’s investment policies. I show how over time ABP’s investment politics became increasingly caught between the political interests of the state on the one hand and the dictates of dominant financial theories on the other hand.

The history of the ABP is indicative of the centrality of pension funds to the Dutch political economy. Contrary to traditional bank-based or stock-market based systems, the presence of these large funds have allowed the Netherlands to combine a generous welfare state with high financial development. Still, as the case study shows, the ongoing financialization of the welfare state has coincided with a depoliticization of pension investment. The result is a loss of public control over the flows of capital that emanate from the Dutch pension funds on the one hand and growing instability within the private pension system on the other hand.

This is unpublished work. Please e-mail, if interested in the paper.


Source: H.W. Groeneveld, “De kosten onzer sociale verzekering,” De Werkgever, February 1925, p.37.

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Filed under Events, Financialization, Instituut GAK, Nederland Pensioenland, NIAS, Pension Funds

Book Review: The Ascendancy of Finance

I have written a review of Joseph Vogl’s book The Ascendancy of Finance (Polity, 2017). Read it here or below:

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Filed under Financialization, MPIfG, Publications

Upcoming Talk: Harvard Law School

I am very excited to be part of this great panel on financialization and inequality at the “Money as a Democratic Medium” conference at Harvard Law School in December. Come check out this fantastic conference, if you’re in the Boston area!


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Filed under Events, Financialization, United States

New Milestone

Today I am celebrating that my article “Making Sense of Financialization” reached 500 citations on Google Scholar. It’s exhilarating and deeply flattering to see this appreciation for what originated as Chapter 2 from my dissertation.  Many thanks for all the support that I have received over the past few years! Making Sense

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Filed under Financialization, Publications

Handbook of Financialization: Table of Contents Now Available!

We’re delighted to share publicly (for the first time) the Table of Contents of the forthcoming International Handbook of Financialization (Routledge 2019)!

Thanks to the great many positive responses, which exceeded even our highest expectations, a superb group of scholars has come together to make the forthcoming Handbook an already widely-anticipated success.

Please note that this table of contents may be subject to some changes before the anticipated publication date in early 2019.

Phil, Daniel & Natascha


TABLE OF CONTENTS (as of July 2018)


1. Phil Mader, Daniel Mertens & Natascha van der Zwan: Introduction


Part A – Finance and Financialization: Taking Stock

2. Brett Christophers & Ben Fine: The Value of Financialization and the Financialization of Value

3. Christoph Deutschmann: The Socio-Economic Foundations of Financialization

4. Sheila Dow: Financialization and the Monetary Authorities: Post-Keynesian and Other Perspectives

5. Paul Langley: The Financialization of Life

6. Ismail Erturk: (title TBC)


Part B – Approaches to Studying Financialization

7. Ève Chiapello: Financialization as a Socio-technical Question

8. Samuel Knafo & Mareike Beck: Financialization and the Uses of History

9. Stefano Pagliari & Kevin Young: How is Financialization Reproduced Politically?

10. Dimitris Sotiropoulos & Ariane Hillig: Financialization in Heterodox Economics

11. Hadas Weiss: The Anthropological Study of Financialization


Part C – Structures, Spaces and Sites of Financialization

12. Manuel Aalbers, Rodrigo Fernandez & Gertjan Wijburg: The Financialization of Real Estate

13. Sarah Bracking: Financialization and the Environmental Frontier

14. Bruno Bonizzi, Annina Kaltenbrunner & Jeff Powell: Subordinate Financialization in Emerging Capitalist Economies

15. Rodrigo Fernandez & Reijer Hendrikse: Offshore Finance

16. Ewa Karwowski: Variegated Financialization in the Global South

17. Engelbert Stockhammer & Karsten Köhler: Financialization and Demand Regimes in Advanced Economies

18. Yingyao Wang: The State and Financialization

19. Brigitte Young: Financialization and Gendered Inequality


Part D – Actors, Agency, and Politics of Financialization

20. Benjamin Braun & Daniela Gabor: Central Banking, Shadow Banking, and Infrastructural Power

21. Jan Fichtner: The Rise of Institutional Investors

22. Felipe Gonzalez: Household Debt and the “Retailisation” of Finance

23. Brooke Harrington: Trusts and Financialization

24. Johannes Petry: Exchanges and Financialization: From Marketplaces to Agents

25. Dennis Stolz & Karen Lai: Philanthrocapitalism, Social Enterprises and Global Development

26. Lena Lavinas: The Collateralization of Social Policy in the Global South

27. Lisa Adkins, Kavita Datta & Vincent Guermond, Michael McCarthy, Paul Thompson & Jean Cushen: DISCUSSION FORUM on Labor and Financialization


Part E – Techniques, Technologies, and Cultures of Financialization

28. Rob Aitken: The Cultural Economy of Financial Subjectivity

29. Nathan Coombs & Arjen van der Heide: The Calculative and Regulatory Consequences of Risk Management

30. Laura Deruytter & Sebastian Möller: Financialized Practices and Rationalities of Local Authorities

31. Max Haiven: Culture and Financialization: Five Approaches

32. Jeanne Lazarus: Financial Literacy Education: A Questionable Answer to the Financialization of Everyday Life

33. Johnna Montgomerie: Debt Dependence and the Financialization of Everyday Life


Part F – Instabilities, Insecurities, and the Discontents of Financialization

34. Gerald Epstein: The Bankers’ Club and the Financialization of Crises

35. Beat Weber: (title TBC)

36. Andreas Nölke: Financialization and the Crisis of Democracy

37. Sunanda Sen: Uncertainty and Financialization

38. Matthias Thiemann: Why is There No Anti-Cyclical Regulation of Finance?

39. Christina Laskaridis, Nathan Legrand & Eric Toussaint: Struggles against Illegitimate Debt

40. Olivier Godechot: Financialization and the Increase in Inequality


Epilogue (TBC)


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FGGA Research Publication

FGGA5I am very honored to be one of twelve academics from the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs to have been featured in this new publication. Fast forward to page 58 to find out why pensions aren´t boring and why do-it-yourself-pensions are a bad idea. Or scroll down to read the full interview below. 

Pension schemes? Bóóóring! At least, that’s what lots of  people think, but not Natascha van der Zwan. On the contrary, the assistant professor and political scientist is fascinated by the subject. She compares pension systems in various countries (in historical perspective) and reflects on the way they work out for citizens. ‘Saving for later on an individual basis? That will widen the gap between rich and poor.’

Pensions are as old as time, says Natascha van der Zwan. ‘In Roman days, for instance, it was already common that the state (if one can use that term) rewarded veterans for their services with a “pension provision”, a piece of land. In The Netherlands, the first pension schemes came into being in the early 19th century. Strikingly enough, they were also, at first, meant for veterans, and for civil servants. The government provided a favor, a token of appreciation from the king to people who had distinguished themselves in government service. Soon, however, those provisions were expanded to another category of pensioners:  widows and orphans. Based on the idea that one should protect families without a breadwinner from further misery.

Over the course of the 19th century pension rights were extended to other groups, and the execution of those rights sided more and more with employers. Around the turn of the century , a number of big firms already provided their workers with a pension. Still as a favor, not as a right. And actually this is still the case today. In The Netherlands we have two kinds of “pension”: a state allowance at a fixed level, to which every citizen is entitled (the “AOW”). And a supplementary pension, as a rule managed by pension funds or insurance companies and paid for by employers and employees during the course of their working life. Agreements on contributions are part of the terms of employment.  Logical, as pension is in fact deferred wage: a form of salary that’s only paid after some time. ‘It’s typical for The Netherlands that management and labour organisations decide together on pension rights, often through collective labour agreements.’

Public Pensions

Van der Zwan is working on a historical study comparing pensions schemes in Germany, the United States and The Netherlands. ‘In Germany a public pension (provided by the state) was introduced  in the late 19th century. Private companies were not involved in this scheme. Even today, the government plays a leading role in pension provisions and pension funds are therefore less common in Germany than in the Netherlands. The country relies on the state pension, paid for by premiums. Current employees provide for current pensioners. But if more people retire and fewer people have a job, you’re in for a huge problem. Either workers pay more, or the government has to supplement.’

In the United States the ball lies in the employees’ court. Companies are not obliged to offer any form of pension, and usually they don’t – many people  rely on their own savings. Didn’t labour unions try to change this situation? Of course, and in the seventies the American unions were a force to be reckoned with. But their influence dwindled. They simply lost the battle.’


In the Netherlands, the question if the pension system should be scrapped is the subject of heated debate. ‘Not for the first time’, says Van der Zwan. ‘In the nineties, politicians were already questioning the current system. Employees, they argued, should be more at liberty to spend or invest their deferred wages as they saw fit. But time was not ripe for this yet. This only changed when the consequences of the financial crisis became noticeable. People were dissatisfied and new ideas gained ground. And what about Germany and the US? Of course, they also feel the pressure of economic circumstances and an aging population. These countries advocate making pension provisions less voluntary, along the lines of the Dutch system.’

Van der Zwan herself is critical  of the new pension ideas. ‘We know from the scientific literature: voluntary systems do not work. People don’t save, they postpone saving, or and only consider the short term. Or they have just managed to fill their pension pot when they are confronted with higher care costs. There goes their pension!’

‘There are people who say that we have become too dependent on government provisions, and that they cost too much. I am not one of those people. We know that the “do-it-yourself-pension” can make citizens very insecure, as well as leading to more inequality between those who have sufficient knowledge, discipline and responsibility to save for later, and those who haven’t. A voluntary system will widen the gap between rich and poor, between people who’ll have all their eggs in their basket, and those who’ll lose out.’

Text by Andrea Hijmans


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Filed under Financialization, Germany, Institute of Public Administration, Nederland Pensioenland, Pension Funds, United States