I am a political economist with a core interest in the politics of finance in contemporary capitalist development and its relationship with the increasing authoritarian tendencies of contemporary economic systems and processes - both East and West. My research investigates the role of finance in underpinning Chinese authoritarian capitalism and the influence of China's economic and political development on global financial and economic governance.
My new book 'Communists Constructing Capitalism: State, Market, and the Party in China's Financial Reform' will be published in June 2019 with Manchester University Press, providing an historical analysis of how control by the Chinese Communist Party of the financial system has enabled market reforms whilst preserving stability of the authoritarian regime.
Current areas of empirical focus:
- The growth of Chinese fintech and the politics of digital credit scoring and dataveillance
- China's financial transnationalization - banking and monetary policy
- The growth of green finance and the political influence of global financial centres
- Chinese outbound investment - the international political economy of the Belt and Road Initiative
- The impact of economic ideology in transnational finance
My current major projects include:
Fintech and Surveillance Capitalism in China and Beyond: A Comparative Political Economy of Digital Financialization
China’s financial system is undergoing rapid change as a result of the introduction and spread of financial technologies (fintech). The processes of financial inclusion, financial liberalization, and of financial control accompanying these changes have significant political implications for the power relations between ordinary citizens, state actors, and financial capital. They are also embedded in through the historical and cultural context of Chinese society. This research project will accordingly refine and apply a comparative framework for analyzing the political economy of digital financialization. The project will apply this framework to the comparative analysis of digital credit scoring in the United States, Europe, and China, thus shedding light on how the diffusion of financial technology and practices results in distinct forms of financialization in different political cultures.
ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship
Reshaping Global Capital: The Politics of Uncertainty in China's Financial Transnationalization
As China's economy has experienced rapid growth and accelerating transnationalization, the significance and impact of Chinese finance and capital within the global economy are only just now beginning to emerge. How well do we understand the implications of China's distinctive political economy for a global financial system whose normative underpinnings remain deeply in flux, seven years following the 2008 financial crisis? This project examines the shifting nature of political and economy power within global finance exploring how the functional and technocratic demands of managing and regulating increasing complexity and systemic interdependence within the global financial system are interacting with the distinctly political implications of China's illiberal yet highly capitalist mode of financial governance. Through case studies of emerging financial hubs where Chinese and non-Chinese capital are coalescing (Shanghai, London, and Hong Kong), as well as by analyzing China's participation within institutions of global financial governance, I show how the contradictions ostensibly embodied within China's political economy in fact reflect back much more critically upon the ideological contradictions visible within the liberal democratic capitalist ideal.
Communists Constructing Capitalism: Between State and Market in China's Financial Development
The allocation of capital through a financial sector under the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has played a foundational role in China’s developmental trajectory and emergence into the global political economy. I examine the role of the CCP as a core governance institution that has enabled China’s market-led integration into the global economy to spur economic growth without threatening the resilience of authoritarian rule. I argue that the financial system, centered on the state-owned banking sector, embodies a unique duality of purpose. It exists as the primary set of tools not only for controlling the micro-dimensions of sectoral- and firm-specific development and growth, but also for implementing decisive macroeconomic monetary policy. On the basis of in-depth interviews and historical research, I trace how this duality constitutes the socio-economic foundation for CCP control over the domestic trajectory of economic growth and development, as well as China’s engagement with the global economy and the international monetary system. It is a duality that has provided strong foundations for China’s rapid pace of economic growth under an authoritarian political regime, however it has also produced an unsustainable symbiotic relationship between political legitimacy and economic accumulation.