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For decades academics, journalists and politicians have generally held that, when it comes to hosting a financial centre in your neighbourhood, bigger is better. But new research is overturning that orthodoxy. Studies are finding that financial sector development is healthy for its host country only up to a point - after which it starts to crowd out alternative economic sectors, sap productivity and growth, enable rent-seeking, and subvert the political system. A large financial sector, it turns out, behaves rather like a large minerals sector, which has caused a 'Resource Curse' in many mineral-dependent countries. It's time to start talking about a Finance Curse.
In the first article in this series, Nicholas Shaxson takes a broad look at the Resource Curse and shows some of the parallels with the Finance Curse. Next, renowned geographer Doreen Massey looks at how finance and financialisation now mould Britain's economy, geography, ideology and politics to an astonishing degree, and how it has come to the core of a new social settlement in which the fabric of its society and economy has been thoroughly reworked. Adam Leaver then looks at Britain in more fine-grained geographical detail, exploring the winners and losers in this financially-denominated economy, in an article aptly entitled "The metropolitanisation of gains, the nationalisation of losses.' Finally, Tamasin Cave explains how finance in Britain has become much more than a lobby: finance and the British state are now mutually embedded to the point that it can be hard to tell where one stops and the other starts.