Research Group: Politics in Financial Times

Cornelia Woll

Globally connected markets and highly volatile investments through financial markets have profoundly transformed politics. On the one hand, politicians seize the possibilities offered through market finance to pursue investments and expenditures that would not be possible otherwise. On the other hand, the dependence on the financial system reduces political choices, pitching different parts of a countries’ population against one another. A series of scholars have pointed to the global economy as the culprit for the current rise of populism. Financialized economies clearly produce winners and losers, exacerbating economic inequalities. Analyzing the nature of these changes, this research group follows three lines of inquiry.

  • Financial regulation: By studying the evolution of current financial regulation in a comparative perspective, the group seeks to understand whether political forces and regulatory oversight succeeds in bringing financial markets under public scrutiny. Particular attention is paid to banking regulation, supervision and resolution, but also credit markets and housing finance.
  • Corporate power: As multilateral companies have become global players, they escape political constraints in their home countries. This becomes visible in weakened industrial relations and the decline of trade unions, the hollowing out of tax regimes and sometimes an erosion of regulatory standards. This well-established globalization effect is amplified by the transformation of the legal instruments in many countries that allow prosecutors to pursue companies for wrong-doings at home or abroad.
  • Economic patriotism: The national economic interest is considered a key element for understanding global politics. However, what is national has shifted over time and politicians actively try to conjure up references to economic interests and territories to position themselves in electoral competitions. We examine how these notions of national interest are constructed and gain traction in order to understand the transformation of political struggles in many industrialized nations in the last decades.
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