The role of the state in building sustainable financial centres: comparing London, Luxembourg and Singapore
This research aims at systematising, conceptualising, and better comprehending the State and its role(s) as a key actor in building the financial centre of the future. Two factors inform this research project: 1) International financial centres (IFCs) as key ‘production sites’ of financial capitalism, and, 2) the State’s entrepreneurial actions to shape these production sites, especially, when finance is a key national industry. This project explores three case studies: Luxembourg, London, and Singapore.
More profoundly, this research addresses the lack of a coherent discussion on the dynamics of and in financial centres more generally. Researchers have precious little understanding of how one of the world’s key industrial sectors alters spatio- and socio-financial patterns. Hence, this research takes a step back to understand some particular social fabrics of finance production.
Literature on cluster economies and spatial innovation systems assigns a range of crucial roles to States’ attempts to boost a cluster’s international competitiveness and to create enabling environments for economic activity. Conventional scholarship explores the State’s role in developing and sustaining its key economic sectors. States typically accomplish this through funding innovation, designing appropriate regulations and development policies, among other things. Like manufacturing, or technological clusters, IFCs are clusters of highly particular characteristics. Yet, they pose a number of challenges to the conventional cluster understanding. The paradox between value and wealth creation is, perhaps, the most significant:
- Many financial activities, capital market and brokerage services of the investment banking, hardly create value but accumulate financial wealth.
- If credit creation – which is at the heart of investment banking – employs principles of economically futile yet profitable intermediation and leverage, and if this kind of credit growth fuels financial bubbles and destabilises the global financial system, a State’s intention to pursue regional development based on the finance sectors’ income – as in Luxembourg’s, London’s, and Singapore’s financial centres – justifies more in-depth scrutiny.
- Further, using the appropriate conceptual framework, this research also suggests to explore points of political intervention distinct for finance clusters.