The Cyberflâneur #21: Daniela Gabor

As the financial and economic world is once again visibly coming off its hinges, we’re very fortunate to welcome Daniela Gabor as our latest resident guest editor. Daniela is a professor of economics and macro-finance at UWE Bristol, founder of Critical Macro Finance and a world-leading expert on “the political economy of finance”.

The timeliness of Daniela’s cyberflâneurship is reflected in her fantastic selections. You’ll read about “health as an asset class”, the fiscal delusions of public private partnerships (PPPs), “decarbonization herding”, infrastructural surveillance, and much more.

What’s more, Daniela had the following to relay on international development and the “escorting of capital” to you guess where…

The global policy community has, for some years, sought to reorganize development interventions around maximising private finance for development. The emerging Wall Street Consensus calls on international development institutions and governments of poor countries to ‘escort capital’ to the Sustainable Developmental Goals. Think World Bank’s pandemic bonds that actually pay out in a pandemic.


This is an ambitious project to privatise and commodity public infrastructure (health, education, roads, renewable energy) via Public-Private Partnerships. It aims to package PPPs into ‘investable development assets’, preferably in local currency, through (1) significant derisking (public resources in the form of guarantees and subsidies) from states in the Global South or from Multilateral Development Banks and (2) ‘Americanising’ local financial systems to render PPP-based development assets investible.

For Daniela’s bio and Twitter.

~ Evgeny Morozov

A recent lecture by Daniela. Links to more of her work further below.

Daniela’s Selections

I.

Pension and State Funds Dominating Biomedical R&D Investment: Fiduciary Duty and Public Health

Health as an asset class doesn’t work for citizens: public pension funds finance the majority of biomedical R&D funding, but the complex financial architecture generates high costs that denies access to effective treatments for many.


II.

Towards Global Business Engagement with Development Goals? Multilateral Institutions and the SDGs in a Changing Global Capitalism

This review article explores the ways in which we should conceptualise the central role that PPPs play in the SDG agenda, particularly in how they change (developmental) state-business relations.


III.

Financing Large-Scale Renewable-Energy Projects in Kenya: Investor Types, International Connections, and Financialization

The journey to infrastructure as an asset class is long and fraught with institutional complexity: PPPs’ complex risk structure deters institutional investors from participating in Keyna’s renewable energy projects, leaving MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks) and governments to finance and derisk.


IV.

PPPs in China: Does the Growth in Chinese PPPs Signal a Liberalising Economy?

Since 2000, China has invested in more PPPs than any other country in the world. But there is an important difference. In high-income countries and the Global South, PPPs enlist the state in ‘derisking’ infrastructure assets for private finance and business. In China, PPPs strengthen the hand of the state.


V.

The Politics of Solidarity: Privatisation, Precarious Work and Labour in South Africa

Precarious workers, trade unions and PPPs: this book explores the strategies through which trade unions cope with rising public-private partnerships to create solidarity in fragmented workforces.


VI.

Public-Private Partnership and Fiscal Illusion: a Systematic Review

The illusion that PPPs are less expensive than traditional public investment is useful for governments and MDBs simply because it allows them to circumvent budgetary restrictions and spend off-balance.


VII.

Transforming the Governance of Energy Systems: the Politics of Ideas in Low-Carbon Infrastructure Development in Mexico and Vietnam

Low-carbon energy infrastructure policies often mask developmental and energy security strategies that lock-in fossil-fuel dependency.


VIII.

Local Currency Bond Markets

World Bank and the IMF: if you want global institutional investors (think Blackrock) in your local SDG asset markets, then make them feel at home: here is a list of changes to Americanize your financial system.


IX.

Herds on Green Meadows: the Decarbonization of Institutional Portfolios

Decarbonization herding is here: institutional investors follow leaders’ shift from brown assets to green assets. Should we ‘encourage’ the leaders to further decarbonise via green regulations?


X.

Infrastructural Surveillance

Into the future of infrastructure as an asset class: infrastructural surveillance first through your connected and/or autonomous vehicle, then to other smart technologies such as Alexa-type speakers or gig economy apps.


More by Daniela Gabor – from our Stacks

Our archive of high-quality content across text, video and audio – our “Living Syllabus” as we call it – has already reached over 10,000 items and grows larger every week.

Here are some recent pieces by or featuring Daniela from those archives:


Previous Editions

  • #13 Quinn Slobodian – Historian and author of Globalists
  • #14 Katrina Forrester – Political Theorist and Intellectual Historian at Harvard University
  • #15 Kaiser Kuo – Writer, Musician, Podcaster
  • #16 Atossa Araxia Abrahamian – Senior Editor at the Nation, Author of The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen
  • #17 Li Andersson – Finland’s Minister of Education and the Chairperson of the Left Alliance party
  • #18 István Rév – Professor of History and Political Science at CEU, Director of the Open Society Archives
  • #19 Benjamin Bratton – Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California
  • #20 Ivan Krastev – Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna

More About our Cyberflâneur Series

To learn more about how this particularly eclectic edition of our syllabi works, head over here. Note that if you subscribe to any of our weekly syllabi, we’ll keep you posted on our latest cyberflâneurs too. Our subscribers also get a monthly Highlights From the Cyberflâneur edition.

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