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Financialisation and Sustainability:a Long-run Perspective

Alessandro Vercelli
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Alessandro Vercelli: University of Siena and SOAS (University of London).

Working papers from Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project

Abstract: This paper argues that there is a secular tendency towards financialisation that is intrinsic in the development of market relations. The driving force of this evolutionary process is rooted in a progressive but discontinuous flow of financial innovations meant to remove the existing constraints to the flexibility of economic transactions. According to received wisdom, the adoption of money as medium of exchange has removed the strictures of double coincidence of wants, while the modern forms of credit have been developed to relax the cash-in-advance constraint to economic transactions. As these examples suggest, financial innovations aim to extend the set of exchange options in time, space and contents for the decision makers who introduce them. Financial innovations are adopted because, ceteris paribus, a larger option set is positively correlated with higher expected returns and pay-off opportunities. Their systemic effects, however, may have negative implications such as financial instability, underinvestment in the real sector, unemployment, stagnation. When the negative consequences accumulate beyond a tolerable threshold, the remedy has been sought in stricter rules of self-regulation, or rather of regulation by law, or even in severe measures of financial repression. The fact that this did not happen so far after the recent deep crisis has further enhanced the unsustainability of the current process of financialisation.

Keywords: Financialisation; globalisation; sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B10 B20 E50 N20 O16 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 pages
Date: 2014-08-14
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