Warwick Critical Finance Group Newsletter

May 23, 2019

Thinking about balance-sheets...

Greetings all,

It is time for a quick heads-up from the Midlands, where we have been busy organising our September workshop on critical macro finance and thinking about the new popularity of balance-sheet centric approaches in IPE. You will find an update below, next to a link to the recording of our conversation with Daniela Gabor; our book recommendation; an exciting art project turned browser game about tax havens; a call for papers; and a publication on securities exchanges by one of us.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned!

Best wishes,
Johannes, Fabian, Marco, Ruben and Sahil

Coming soon: Our Critical Macro-Finance Workshop

The preparations for our September workshop are running hot and we are excited to be cooperating with PERC at Goldsmiths on this. We've had many great submissions for the workshop and given the event-format were forced to make some tough decisions. But we would like to say thank you to all of you who took the time to send proposals through!

As with our previous workshop, and writeshop, we hope to make this year's workshop a slightly different experience to the standard academic event and we decided to try out some more interactive strategies for talking about papers than the standard presentation-Q&A-routine. The workshop will therefore focus not so much on feedback for the individual papers, but more on lessons to be drawn from them for how we think - about, through, with, against - balance sheets and critical macro finance frame(s). The list of topics for our panels does more than any other short description to impart the basic issues we will address:

1. What is critical macro finance?
2. Politicising critical macro finance
3. Critical macro finance & emerging markets
4. Theorising critical macro finance
5. Critical macro finance & monetary governance
6. Historicising critical macro finance

Excitement in the team is high, the topic demands our attention, and the submissions provide us with an excellent basis for debate. So the pre-conditions are excellent - and we are very much looking forward to the event!

Recording available: WCF in Conversation with Daniela Gabor

In March, we were lucky enough to get into conversation with Daniela Gabor, Professor of Economics and Macro-Finance at UWE Bristol. Daniela is working on the intersections of economics, finance and political economy, researching a variety of areas such as shadow banking activities, especially repo markets, and their implications for monetary theory, central banking, sovereign bond markets and regulatory activities. As a pioneering scholar of critical macro finance, she was also a great person to talk to before our September workshop!

We spoke to Daniela about balance-sheet centric approaches such as the money view and critical macro finance and discussed the implications of their rising popularity. How can we better integrate these new approaches with other lines of work? How can we use it to address the contingency of finance? What are the limits of balance sheet centric approaches, and how might they be supplemented with other approaches? How can we use these approaches to narrate processes of financialisation or the politics of global finance, to speak to financialisation and IPE scholars?

If you'd like to listen in on the conversation, check out the recording on our eventpage!

New Book: "Gambling in Everyday Life"

Fiona Nicoll has written an outstanding book on the contemporary intersections of gambling, finance, work and play that will be of interest to anyone who seeks to either understand how individuals' relation to money and finance is pushed and pulled by wider attempts to govern populations; anyone who wants to think critically about gaming arcades as instantiations of gendered and racialised power; or anyone who is simply puzzled by that new slot-machine in their favourite pub. Nicoll takes the reader on a breath-taking journey through the spaces (e.g. casino resorts, 'pokie' lounges), moments (e.g. lottery participation, sports betting), and products (e.g. electronic and algorithmic gambling machines) of gambling and reveals a phenomenon that is pervasive, reaching far beyond what most of us would likely consider to be 'problem gambling'.

What makes this such a refreshing read is how Nicoll resists a facile reduction of gambling to the excesses of risk society or biopolitics. "The language of risk", she writes, "cannot account for the affective power and epistemological disruption generated when 'dumb luck' falls on the uneducated, the undeserving, or the already wealthy". Her analysis therefore focuses on 'enjoyment' as a central problematic for the study of gambling - and of market life more generally - to work through the complexities of political power in our daily experience of money and finance. In this sense, the book is a must read for everyone who has been exploring 'the everyday' to account for how finance weaves into the social fabric of daily life.

Yet, perhaps the greatest achievements of all is Nicoll's ability to speak not only to critical scholars of finance and everyday life, but also to those readers who currently make up the frameworks for political intervention into gambling. Academics in the psychological and medical sciences, people in the gambling industry, governments. Nicoll offers a critique of their current frameworks but is determined to start a conversation. As such, she offers compelling ways to redress the political question of gambling and ask: what kind of gambling do we want, and for what purposes?

Link to the publisher's page

Call for Papers: Intersections of Finance & Society 2019

The 4th Annual Finance & Society conference will return to London in December! The Finance & Society Network (FSN) aims to foster further dialogue between the diverse camps that make up the new field of ‘finance and society’ studies. In particular, to identify new synergies between heterodox political economy and various sociological, historical, and philosophical perspectives on the intersections of finance and society. Running in its fourth year, FSN has become the place to go to for critical finance research!

Abstracts for papers (300w) and panels (panel proposal and 4-5 paper abstracts) can be submitted by 1 August 2019 to Amin Samman and Martijn Konings (

For more information, follow this link to the CfP!

New browser game for exploring the reality of tax havens

We were excited to discover the browser game 'Taxodus' which was inspired by this documentary and invites players to set up and learn about elaborate tax-avoidance schemes:

"Taxodus is a web-based game that responds to the industry of tax planning by which multinationals attempt to lower their taxes on profits and other mandatory contributions as much as possible. Players, ‘acting’ on behalf of multinationals, have to dodge paying as much tax as they can within a strategic landscape that incorporates real data on international capital flows such as withholding taxes and tax treaties. By setting up subsidiaries and intermediate holdings globally, players reveal potential routes through which multinationals can ‘neutralise’ their tax burdens. These player-generated tax routes are uploaded as a fiscal annual report and are accessible in a public database.

Today, tax avoidance is no longer an exception but the norm. It has created a powerful financial shadow world into which capital flows are pumped to legally circumvent financial regulation. And while many governments lose tax revenues year after year, large capital sums are accumulating in offshore jurisdictions out of sight of the ‘tax man’. Taxodus aims at making the basic principles, geography and impact of the hidden offshore economy visible."

Start playing here!

WCF on Paper

'Securities exchanges: subjects and agents of financialization' by Johannes Petry
How have exchanges shaped financialization? In his chapter in the new 'International Handbook of Financialization' (Routledge, 2019) edited by Phil Mader, Daniel Mertens & Natasha van der Zwan, WCF member Johannes Petry addresses this question. He argues that similar to other financial market actors, stock and derivative exchanges have themselves undergone a significant transformation. In the last 25 years, marketization, internationalization, and digitization have fundamentally changed the way exchanges function. As a result of this transformation, exchanges have become crucial agents in processes of financialization.

First, by organizing capital markets they influence market dynamics, facilitating volatility and market stability. Second, exchanges have turned into agents of disintermediation, selling and exporting financial technologies and expertise, facilitating the development of capital markets globally. Third, exchanges have emerged as politically and economically powerful players, both vis-à-vis other market actors but also towards regulators and states. Overall, through their transformation exchanges have become crucial actors in the spreading of capital markets, the transformations of contemporary finance and the politics of financialization.

A pre-print copy can be found here!


9-10 September 2019: WCF Workshop
Critical Macro-Finance
in cooperation with
PERC, Goldsmiths.


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Warwick Critical Finance Group · Department of Politics and International Studies · University of Warwick · Coventry, CV4 7AL · United Kingdom

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