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Re-conceptualizing the political economy of finance in the post-crisis era

  • W. Travis Selmier and W. Kindred Winecoff

This article introduces a special issue of Business and Politics on Property Rights, Financial Risk, and the Politics of a Networked Global Financial System. We introduce aspects of the articles in the issue and situate them within existing literatures in financial economics, public policy, political economy, regulation and governance, and network science. We do this through examining four key contributions in the special issue. First, we show that common conceptualizations of property rights in financial markets ignore the multidimensional nature of financial goods; examples of all goods types can be found in modern finance, and this fact has important implications for the politics and regulation of these markets. Second, we argue that models of financial actors as independent, atomistic agents neglect the relational nature of financial markets, and argue that theory and methodology from network science, financial economics and political economy provide useful ways to analyze these interdependent systems. Third, we discuss how the relational nature of risk leads to hierarchical patterns of financial interdependence, which bequeaths substantial amounts of power—within both market and political systems—to those actors that occupy core positions within the structure of interdependence. Fourth, we integrate ideas from papers in this special issue and related literature with concepts from the Ostrom School of political economy to consider how monitoring, self-governance, and polycentric applications might improve financial market governance. This issue's papers thus constitute one of the first combined attempts to bring the Ostrom School into substantive conversation with financial market governance and risk analysis through comparative and international political economy disciplines.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: W. Travis Selmier II, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA, email:
W. Kindred Winecoff, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA.
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