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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2011
Germain offers a very useful contribution to our understanding of financial capitalism generally, and the financial crisis more specifically. The book is important in a number of ways. First, it adopts a definition of finance as a socially constructed notion (something overlooked by most orthodox economic analysis). Secondly, it discusses regulation as a hybrid form of private and public governance that cannot fully be captured within existing methodological dichotomies of state vs market. Thirdly it offers a concise history of regulation and financial crisis. Fourthly, it offers a vision for the future that argues in favour of de-internationalising governance and re-empowering the national arena. The key idea of the book is that the national sphere is the one that can determine changes in global regulatory frameworks. This is adequately explained and offers a refreshing escape from frequent, yet unlikely, calls for better global financial governance. Returning financial architecture issues to the national domain carries the advantage of re-linking issues of economic governance with political legitimacy and accountability. This cannot be achieved on the international level. The weakness of the book is that, due to its short length, some issues are left unexplored. There is for example an interesting idea that increasing domestic demand could come from better public provision, releasing funds to be consumed by the public. This ought to be developed further, as in its current formulation is subject to attack. The UK government could claim it is doing exactly that, by allowing people choice to buy private services. Why is spending on consumer goods better than spending on private health care for instance? Overall however, this book should be bought by anyone seeking a deeper understanding of our current economic woes.
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