The bulk of the financialisation debate is based on the assumption that finance is gaining superiority over the rest of the economy. Indeed, the accounts of financialisation in which ‘finance’ came to dominate the ‘real economy’ are commonplace, while others describe the financial sector as having a ‘despotic power’ over society and economy. In popular discourse, this often translates into a perception that banks (and bankers) are all-powerful actors that are the movers and shakers of financialised capitalism. However, this neglects a possibility that financial capital itself may be subject to the very forces of financialisation, including the disciplining forces of financial markets. This phenomenon can be described as the ‘financialisation of finance’ (Sokol, 2017). The picture of financialisation is incomplete without considering such ‘financialisation of finance’ and its implications. Indeed, the increasing pressure of financial markets may explain a lot about the strategies banks take, what lending policies they pursue and who (social groups) and where (geography) they target. In other words, we cannot fully understand social and spatial patterns of financialisation of households that banks help to create without understanding how banks themselves have become financialised. In East-Central Europe, much of the banking landscape is dominated by Western (European) banking groups that have penetrated the region after the collapse of state-socialism. GEOFIN thus aims to examine the ‘financialisation of finance’ of the Western banks operating in East-Central Europe and to consider what implications this has for geographies of finance at regional, national as well as European levels.
Sokol, M. (2017) Financialisation, financial chains and uneven geographical development in Europe: Towards a research agenda. Research in International Business and Finance. Volume 39, Part B, January 2017, Pages 678-685. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ribaf.2015.11.007
GEOFIN - Western Banks in Eastern Europe: New Geographies of Financialisation. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 683197)