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Session Overview
RN09_02b_H: Finance and Banking
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Christian Poppe, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Location: HB.3.19
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 3.

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A Sociological Approach on the Development of the European Banking Systems

Florian Brugger

University of Graz, Austria

The outbreak of the current financial and banking crises has encouraged much interdisciplinary research on the European banking systems. Apart of economic contributions several jurisprudential, historical, sociological and anthropological studies investigated European banking systems’ historical developments, social embeddedness and regulations. Usually it is argued that the current banking sectors were formed in the last 30 years, while earlier developments are of little importance. This contribution shows that, in particular, four main epochs determined the part of Europe’s banking sectors development: Absolutism and Mercantilism in the 18th century; Industrialism, Liberalism and Saint-Simonianism in the 19th century, Keynesianism after World War II and the Neoliberalism since the late 1970s.

The four central historical epochs are characterized by a certain ‘order system’. Following Max Weber it is assumed that the banking sectors are embedded into a wider cultural, economic and political order (‘order system’). Each historical epoch shaped the banking systems by its unique ‘order system’, however both the ‘order systems’ and the banking systems are influenced by its historical inheritances. Hence national banking systems are characterized by the national ‘order system’ and its path dependent development. Understanding the banking system as embedded into a wider part-dependent cultural, economic and political order avoids a purely materialistic or idealistic interpretation and gives an explanation for national differences in the development of the banking sectors. The contribution focuses on the part-dependent developments of the French, German and British banking systems.

Are there particular French and German “financial market rationalities” regarding the ECB’s monetary policy?

Malte Flachmeyer

University of Basel, Switzerland

While the European Central Bank (ECB)’s crises management apparently succeeded in fairly stabilising the European financial sector and lowering the interest rates for crisis-ridden member states, questions about legitimate objectives and means of monetary policy have become (again) highly disputed within the Eurosystem. Drawing primarily on a document analysis, the research approach to be presented aims at the disclosure of normative, ‘ideal’ criteria anchoring judgements on rationality and legitimacy within this debate.

In the first section I discuss some theoretical reflections on central banking practices in interaction with financial market discourses as well as contrasting German and French traditional views on monetary policy. Generally it is argued that the past and future evolution of European monetary policy should be traced against the background of both financial market expectations and the need of monetary policy (including the money emitting financial sector) to be trustworthy and reliable in the eyes of the general public. My overall approach therefore consists in scrutinizing the public interplay of different forms of justification and critique in the course of the ECB’s crisis management on the basis of a comparative qualitative analysis.

The presentation empirically focusses on German and French financial market actors’ positions towards the most recent asset purchase programmes and the zero interest rate policy since 2016. The relating political communication is explored notably in the form of documents published by major banks (e.g. research and policy papers; contributions in the financial press). Is the growing and increasingly open dissent on efficient and legitimate central banking also reflected in (this part of) the German and French “financial market community”?

The ECB´s Banking Supervision: The Logic of Legitimisation in the European Union

Valentina Ausserladscheider

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

The newly instigated European banking supervision conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB) is presented as the next milestone in the history of European integration. On the basis of EU-wide stress tests, the ECB took over banking supervision from national authorities. While the ECB´s discourse concerning its additional function conveys a political, social and cultural narrative promising the European citizens´ gain from an integrated banking supervision, I argue that this discourse veils a different mechanism. This piece of work makes the case that these recent developments foster economic technocracy, dis-embedding the economy from politics and society. By investigating the ECB´s legitimisation discourse by applying critical discourse analysis, I pinpoint the strategies by which the ECB justifies technocratic governance free from political interference. I thereby contribute to scholarly literature claiming that there is a crisis of democratic capitalism characterised by inherent tensions between democracy and capitalism. More specifically, I present a case study of the way in which this crisis is suspended by rendering democracy voiceless, taking away the European demos´ say on economic issues.

Public debates on financial regulation: The justification of arguments on the regulation of the loan-to-value ratio in Norway.

Trond Loyning

University College of Southeast Norway, Norway

Financial regulation is for the most part the domain of experts, involving highly technical issues often in transnational fora like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. While the regulation became highly contested in the aftermath of the financial crises, in general financial regulation is somewhat removed from public discourse and often from elected politicians as well. This article analyse an exemption from this. In 2010, a regulation of the loan-to-value ratio was introduced in Norway, specifying that as a rule, this ration could not exceed 90 % of the market value of the property. This ratio has since been lowered to 85 %. In the Norwegian context where homeownership is very widespread, this proved to be a controversial regulation, resulting in a heated debate in Norway over several years, involving many different actors, including politicians, journalists and academics. In the paper, articles in national and regional newspaper are analysed, using Boltanski & Thevenots pragmatic perspective on how actors legitimize their reasoning and critique. A main finding is that arguments opposing the regulation is most often based in the civic world, for example arguments on how the regulation exclude some (unprivileged) classes from the housing markets; while proponents of the regulations is based in the managerial or industrial world. There are surprisingly few directly market-based arguments. Somewhat paradoxically however, since critics tend to highlight the increasing inequality resulting from market-based governance, in this debate those critical of the regulation often indirectly argue for the fairness of the market world.

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