Financialization (or Financialisation in British English) is a term sometimes used to describe the development of financial capitalism during the period from 1980 to present, in which debt-to-equity ratios increased and financial services accounted for an increasing share of national income relative to other sectors.
Financialization describes an economic process by which exchange is facilitated through the intermediation of financial instruments. Financialization may permit real goods, services, and risks to be readily exchangeable for currency, and thus make it easier for people to rationalize their assets and income flows.
Various definitions, focusing on specific aspects and interpretations, have been used:
"only debts grew exponentially, year after year, and they do so inexorably, even when—indeed, especially when—the economy slows down and its companies and people fall below break-even levels. As their debts grow, they siphon off the economic surplus for debt service (...) The problem is that the financial sector's receipts are not turned into fixed capital formation to increase output. They build up increasingly on the opposite side of the balance sheet, as new loans, that is, debts and new claims on society’s output and income.
[Companies] are not able to invest in new physical capital equipment or buildings because they are obliged to use their operating revenue to pay their bankers and bondholders, as well as junk-bond holders. This is what I mean when I say that the economy is becoming financialized. Its aim is not to provide tangible capital formation or rising living standards, but to generate interest, financial fees for underwriting mergers and acquisitions, and capital gains that accrue mainly to insiders, headed by upper management and large financial institutions. The upshot is that the traditional business cycle has been overshadowed by a secular increase in debt. Instead of labor earning more, hourly earnings have declined in real terms. There has been a drop in net disposable income after paying taxes and withholding "forced saving" for social Security and medical insurance, pension-fund contributions and–most serious of all–debt service on credit cards, bank loans, mortgage loans, student loans, auto loans, home insurance premiums, life insurance, private medical insurance and other FIRE-sector charges. ... This diverts spending away from goods and services.
Jean Cushen explores how the workplace outcomes associated with financialization render employees insecure and angry.
In the American experience, increased financialization occurred concomitant with the rise of neoliberalism and the free-market doctrines of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics in the late Twentieth Century. Various academic economists of that period worked out ideological and theoretical rationalizations and analytical approaches to facilitate the increased deregulation of financial systems and banking.
In a 1998 article, Michael Hudson discussed previous economists who saw the problems that result from financialization.Problems were identified by John A. Hobson (financialization enabled Britain's imperialism), Thorstein Veblen (it acts in opposition to rational engineers), Herbert Somerton Foxwell (Britain was not using finance for industry as well as Europe), and Rudolf Hilferding (Germany was surpassing Britain and the United States in banking that supports industry).
At the same 1998 conference in Oslo, Erik S. Reinert and Arno Mong Daastøl in "Production Capitalism vs. Financial Capitalism" provided an extensive bibliography on past writings, and prophetically asked
In the United States, probably more money has been made through the appreciation of real estate than in any other way. What are the long-term consequences if an increasing percentage of savings and wealth, as it now seems, is used to inflate the prices of already existing assets - real estate and stocks - instead of to create new production and innovation?
Other financial markets exhibited similarly explosive growth. Trading in US equity (stock) markets grew from $136.0 billion (or 13.1% of US GDP) in 1970 to $1.671 trillion (or 28.8% of U.S. GDP) in 1990. In 2000, trading in US equity markets was $14.222 trillion (144.9% of GDP). Most of the growth in stock trading has been directly attributed to the introduction and spread of program trading.
According to the March 2007 Quarterly Report from the Bank for International Settlements (see page 24.):
Trading on the international derivatives exchanges slowed in the fourth quarter of 2006. Combined turnover of interest rate, currency and stock index derivatives fell by 7% to $431 trillion between October and December 2006.
Thus, derivatives trading—mostly futures contracts on interest rates, foreign currencies, Treasury bonds, and the like—had reached a level of $1,200 trillion, or $1.2 quadrillion, a year. By comparison, US GDP in 2006 was $12.456 trillion.
The data for turnover in the futures markets in 1970, 1980, and 1990 is based on the number of contracts traded, which is reported by the organized exchanges, such as the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and the New York Commodity Exchange, and compiled in data appendices of the Annual Reports of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The pie charts below show the dramatic shift in the types of futures contracts traded from 1970 to 2004.
For a century after organized futures exchanges were founded in the mid-19th century, all futures trading was solely based on agricultural commodities. But after the end of the gold-backed fixed-exchange rate system in 1971, contracts based on foreign currencies began to be traded. After the deregulation of interest rates by the Bank of England and then the US Federal Reserve in the late 1970s, futures contracts based on various bonds and interest rates began to be traded. The result was that financial futures contracts—based on such things as interest rates, currencies, or equity indices—came to dominate the futures markets.
The dollar value of turnover in the futures markets is found by multiplying the number of contracts traded by the average value per contract for 1978 to 1980, which was calculated in research by the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) in 1981. The figures for earlier years were estimated on computer-generated exponential fit of data from 1960 to 1970, with 1960 set at $165 billion, half the 1970 figure, on the basis of a graph accompanying the ACLI data, which showed that the number of futures contracts traded in 1961 and earlier years was about half the number traded in 1970.
According to the ALCI data, the average value of interest-rate contracts is around ten times that of agricultural and other commodities, while the average value of currency contracts is twice that of agricultural and other commodities. (Beginning in mid-1993, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange itself began to release figures of the nominal value of contracts traded at the CME each month. In November 1993, the CME boasted that it had set a new monthly record of 13.466 million contracts traded, representing a dollar value of $8.8 trillion. By late 1994, this monthly value had doubled. On January 3, 1995, the CME boasted that its total volume for 1994 had jumped by 54%, to 226.3 million contracts traded, worth nearly $200 trillion. Soon thereafter, the CME ceased to provide a figure for the dollar value of contracts traded.)
Futures contracts are a "contract to buy or sell a very common homogenous item at a future date for a specific price". The nominal value of a futures contract is wildly different from the risk involved in engaging in that contract. Consider two parties who engage in a contract to exchange 5,000 bushels of wheat at $8.89 per bushel on December 17, 2012. The nominal value of the contract would be $44,450 (5,000 bushels x $8.89). But what is the risk? For the buyer. the risk is that the seller will not be able to deliver the wheat on the stated date. This means the buyer must purchase the wheat from someone else; this is known as the "spot market". Assume that the spot price for wheat on December 17, 2012, is $10 per bushel. This means the cost of purchasing the wheat is $50,000 (5,000 bushels x $10). So the buyer would have lost $5,550 ($50,000 less $44,450), or the difference in the cost between the contract price and the spot price. Furthermore, futures are traded via exchanges, which guarantee that if one party reneges on its end of the bargain, (1) that party is blacklisted from entering into such contracts in the future and (2) the injured party is insured against the loss by the exchange. If the loss is so large that the exchange cannot cover it, then the members of the exchange make up the loss. Another mitigating factor to consider is that a commonly traded liquid asset, such as gold, wheat, or the S&P 500 stock index, is extremely unlikely to have a future value of $0; thus the counter-party risk is limited to something substantially less than the nominal value.
The financial sector is a key industry in developed economies, in which it represents a sizeable share of the GDP and an important source of employment. Financial services (banking, insurance, investment, etc.) have been for a long time a powerful sector of the economy in many economically developed countries. Those activities have also played a key role in facilitating economic globalization.
As early as the beginning of the 20th Century, a small number of financial sector firms have controlled the lion's share of wealth and power of the financial sector. The notion of an American "financial oligarchy" was discussed as early as 1913. In an article entitled "Our Financial Oligarchy," Louis Brandeis, who in 1913 was appointed to the United States Supreme Court, wrote that "We believe that no methods of regulation ever have been or can be devised to remove the menace inherent in private monopoly and overwhelming commercial power" that is vested in U.S. finance sector firms.There were early investigations of the concentration of the economic power of the U.S. finance sector, such as the Pujo Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which in 1912 found that control of credit in America was concentrated in the hands of a small group of Wall Street firms that were using their positions to accumulate vast economic power. When in 1911 Standard Oil was broken up as an illegal monopoly by the U.S. government, the concentration of power in the U.S. financial sector was unaltered.
Key players of financial sector firms also had a seat at the table in devising the central bank of the United States. In November 1910 the five heads of the country's most powerful finance sector firms gathered for a secret meeting on Jekyll Island with U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department A. Piatt Andrew and laid the plans for the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
In the 1970s, the financial sector comprised slightly more than 3% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP] of the U.S. economy,while total financial assets of all investment banks (that is, securities broker-dealers) made up less than 2% of U.S. GDP. The period from the New Deal through the 1970s has been referred to as the era of "boring banking" because banks that took deposits and made loans to individuals were prohibited from engaging in investments involving creative financial engineering and investment banking.
U.S. federal deregulation in the 1980s of many types of banking practices paved the way for the rapid growth in the size, profitability and political power of the financial sector. Such financial sector practices included the creation of private mortgage-backed securities,and more speculative approaches to the creation and trading of derivatives based on new quantitative models of risk and value, . Wall Street ramped up pressure on the United States Congress for more deregulation, including for the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a New Deal law that, among other things, prohibits a bank that accepts deposits from functioning as an investment bank since the latter entails greater risks.
As a result of this rapid financialization, the financial sector scaled up vastly in the span of a few decades. In 1978, the financial sector comprised 3.5% of the American economy (that is, it made up 3.5% of U.S. GDP), but by 2007 it had reached 5.9%. Profits in the American financial sector in 2009 were six times higher on average than in 1980, compared with non-financial sector profits, which on average were just over twice what they were in 1980. Financial sector profits grew by 800%, adjusted for inflation, from 1980 to 2005. By way of comparison with the rest of the economy, U.S. nonfinancial sector profits grew by 250% during the same period. By way of historical perspective, financial sector profits from the 1930s until 1980 grew at the same rate as the rest of the American economy.
By way of illustration of the increased power of the financial sector over the economy, in 1978 commercial banks held $1.2 trillion (million million) in assets, which is equivalent to 53% of the GDP of the United States. By year's end 2007, commercial banks held $11.8 trillion in assets, which is equivalent to 84% of U.S. GDP. Investment banks (securities broker-dealers) held $33 billion (thousand million) in assets in 1978 (equivalent to 1.3% of U.S. GDP), but held $3.1 trillion in assets (equivalent to 22% U.S. GDP) in 2007. The securities that were so instrumental in triggering the financial crisis of 2007-2008, asset-backed securities, including collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) were practically non-existent in 1978. By 2007, they comprised $4.5 trillion in assets, equivalent to 32% of U.S. GDP.
One of the most notable features of financialization has been the development of overleverage (more borrowed capital and less own capital) and, as a related tool, financial derivatives: financial instruments, the price or value of which is derived from the price or value of another, underlying financial instrument. Those instruments, whose initial purpose was hedging and risk management, have become widely traded financial assets in their own right. The most common types of derivatives are futures contracts, swaps, and options. In the early 1990s, a number of central banks around the world began to survey the amount of derivative market activity and report the results to the Bank for International Settlements.
In the past few years, the number and types of financial derivatives have grown enormously. In November 2007, commenting on the financial crisis sparked by the subprime mortgage collapse in the United States, Doug Noland's Credit Bubble Bulletin, on Asia Times Online, noted,
The scale of the Credit "insurance" problem is astounding. According to the Bank of International Settlements, the OTC market for Credit default swaps (CDS) jumped from $4.7 TN at the end of 2004 to $22.6 TN to end 2006. From the International Swaps and Derivatives Association we know that the total notional volume of credit derivatives jumped about 30% during the first half to $45.5 TN. And from the Comptroller of the Currency, total U.S. commercial bank Credit derivative positions ballooned from $492bn to begin 2003 to $11.8 TN as of this past June....
A major unknown regarding derivatives is the actual amount of cash behind a transaction. A derivatives contract with a notional value of millions of dollars may actually only cost a few thousand dollars. For example, an interest rate swap might be based on exchanging the interest payments on $100 million in US Treasury bonds at a fixed interest of 4.5%, for the floating interest rate of $100 million in credit card receivables. This contract would involve at least $4.5 million in interest payments, though the notional value may be reported as $100 million. However, the actual "cost" of the swap contract would be some small fraction of the minimal $4.5 million in interest payments. The difficulty of determining exactly how much this swap contract is worth, when accounted for on a financial institution's books, is typical of the worries of many experts and regulators over the explosive growth of these types of instruments.
Contrary to common belief in the United States, the largest financial center for derivatives (and for foreign exchange) is London. According to MarketWatch on December 7, 2006,
The global foreign exchange market, easily the largest financial market, is dominated by London. More than half of the trades in the derivatives market are handled in London, which straddles the time zones between Asia and the U.S. And the trading rooms in the Square Mile, as the City of London financial district is known, are responsible for almost three-quarters of the trades in the secondary fixed-income markets.
In the wake of the 2007-2010 financial crisis, a number of economists and others began to argue that financial services had become too large a sector of the US economy, with no real benefit to society accruing from the activities of increased financialization.
In February 2009, white-collar criminologist and former senior financial regulator William K. Black listed the ways in which the financial sector harms the real economy. Black wrote, "The financial sector functions as the sharp canines that the predator state uses to rend the nation. In addition to siphoning off capital for its own benefit, the finance sector misallocates the remaining capital in ways that harm the real economy in order to reward already-rich financial elites harming the nation."
Emerging countries have also tried to develop their financial sector, as an engine of economic development. A typical aspect is the growth of microfinance or microcredit, as part of financial inclusion.
Bruce Bartlett summarized several studies in a 2013 article indicating that financialization has adversely affected economic growth and contributes to income inequality and wage stagnation for the middle class.
On 15 February 2010, Adair Turner, the head of Britain’s Financial Services Authority, said financialization was correlated with the 2007–2010 financial crisis. In a speech before the Reserve Bank of India, Turner said that the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 was similar to the 2008–9 crisis in that "both were rooted in, or at least followed after, sustained increases in the relative importance of financial activity relative to real non-financial economic activity, an increasing 'financialisation' of the economy."
Some, such as former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson, have argued that the increased power and influence of the financial services sector had fundamentally transformed the American polity, endangering representative democracy itself through undue influence on the political system and regulatory capture by the financial oligarchy.
In the 1990s vast monetary resources flowing to a few "megabanks," enabled the financial oligarchy to achieve greater political power in the United States. Wall Street firms largely succeeded in getting the American political system and regulators to accept the ideology of financial deregulation and the legalization of more novel financial instruments.Political power was achieved by contributions to political campaigns, by financial industry lobbying, and through a revolving door that positioned financial industry leaders in key politically appointed policy making and regulatory roles and that rewarded sympathetic senior government officials with super high-paying Wall Street jobs after their government service. . The financial sector was the leading contributor to political campaigns since at least the 1990s, contributing more than $150 million in 2006. (This far exceeded the second largest political contributing industry, the healthcare industry, which contributed $100 million in 2006.) From 1990 to 2006, the securities and investment industry increased its political contributions six-fold, from an annual $12 to $72 million. The financial sector contributed $1.7 billion to political campaigns from 1998 to 2006, and spent an additional $3.4 billion on political lobbying, according to one estimate.
Policy makers such as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan called for self-regulation.
In finance, a derivative is a contract that derives its value from the performance of an underlying entity. This underlying entity can be an asset, index, or interest rate, and is often simply called the "underlying". Derivatives can be used for a number of purposes, including insuring against price movements (hedging), increasing exposure to price movements for speculation or getting access to otherwise hard-to-trade assets or markets. Some of the more common derivatives include forwards, futures, options, swaps, and variations of these such as synthetic collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. Most derivatives are traded over-the-counter (off-exchange) or on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange, while most insurance contracts have developed into a separate industry. In the United States, after the financial crisis of 2007–2009, there has been increased pressure to move derivatives to trade on exchanges. Derivatives are one of the three main categories of financial instruments, the other two being stocks and debt. The oldest example of a derivative in history, attested to by Aristotle, is thought to be a contract transaction of olives, entered into by ancient Greek philosopher Thales, who made a profit in the exchange. Bucket shops, outlawed in 1936, are a more recent historical example.
A financial market is a market in which people trade financial securities and derivatives at low transaction costs. Securities include stocks and bonds, and precious metals.
Financial capital is any economic resource measured in terms of money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or to provide their services to the sector of the economy upon which their operation is based, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc.
A commodity market is a market that trades in the primary economic sector rather than manufactured products, such as cocoa, fruit and sugar. Hard commodities are mined, such as gold and oil. Investors access about 50 major commodity markets worldwide with purely financial transactions increasingly outnumbering physical trades in which goods are delivered. Futures contracts are the oldest way of investing in commodities. Futures are secured by physical assets. Commodity markets can include physical trading and derivatives trading using spot prices, forwards, futures, and options on futures. Farmers have used a simple form of derivative trading in the commodity market for centuries for price risk management.
Finance capitalism or financial capitalism is the subordination of processes of production to the accumulation of money profits in a financial system.
The derivatives market is the financial market for derivatives, financial instruments like futures contracts or options, which are derived from other forms of assets.
The National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is the leading stock exchange of India, located in Mumbai. The NSE was established in 1992 as the first dematerialized electronic exchange in the country. NSE was the first exchange in the country to provide a modern, fully automated screen-based electronic trading system which offered easy trading facility to the investors spread across the length and breadth of the country. Vikram Limaye is Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of NSE.
The foreign exchange market is a global decentralized or over-the-counter (OTC) market for the trading of currencies. This market determines foreign exchange rates for every currency. It includes all aspects of buying, selling and exchanging currencies at current or determined prices. In terms of trading volume, it is by far the largest market in the world, followed by the credit market.
Over-the-counter (OTC) or off-exchange trading is done directly between two parties, without the supervision of an exchange. It is contrasted with exchange trading, which occurs via exchanges. A stock exchange has the benefit of facilitating liquidity, providing transparency, and maintaining the current market price. In an OTC trade, the price is not necessarily publicly disclosed.
The NIFTY 50 index National Stock Exchange of India's benchmark broad based stock market index for the Indian equity market. Full form of NIFTY is National Stock Exchange Fifty. It represents the weighted average of 50 Indian company stocks in 13 sectors and is one of the two main stock indices used in India, the other being the BSE Sensex.
Debt levels and flows are a measure of the levels of debt – how much debt is outstanding – and the flows of debt – how much the level of debt changes over time. This is basic macroeconomic data, and varies between countries. Debt is used to finance enterprises and business around the world. Within mainstream economics, levels and flows of public debt are a cause of concern, while levels and flows of private debt are not seen as being of central importance.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to finance:
An economy is an area of the production, distribution and trade, as well as consumption of goods and services by different agents. Understood in its broadest sense, 'The economy is defined as a social domain that emphasize the practices, discourses, and material expressions associated with the production, use, and management of resources'. Economic agents can be individuals, businesses, organizations, or governments. Economic transactions occur when two groups or parties agree to the value or price of the transacted good or service, commonly expressed in a certain currency. However, monetary transactions only account for a small part of the economic domain. Economic activity is spurred by production which uses natural resources, labor and capital. It has changed over time due to technology, innovation such as, that which produces intellectual property and changes in industrial relations. A given economy is the result of a set of processes that involves its culture, values, education, technological evolution, history, social organization, political structure and legal systems, as well as its geography, natural resource endowment, and ecology, as main factors. These factors give context, content, and set the conditions and parameters in which an economy functions. In other words, the economic domain is a social domain of human practices and transactions. It does not stand alone.
The United States subprime mortgage crisis was a nationwide financial crisis, occurring between 2007 and 2010, that contributed to the U.S. recession of December 2007 – June 2009. It was triggered by a large decline in home prices after the collapse of a housing bubble, leading to mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures and the devaluation of housing-related securities. Declines in residential investment preceded the recession and were followed by reductions in household spending and then business investment. Spending reductions were more significant in areas with a combination of high household debt and larger housing price declines.
In finance, a stock market index future is a cash-settled futures contract on the value of a particular stock market index, such as the S&P 500. The turnover for the global market in exchange-traded equity index futures is notionally valued, for 2008, by the Bank for International Settlements at USD 130 trillion.
The financial position of the United States includes assets of at least $269.6 trillion and debts of $145.8 trillion to produce a net worth of at least $123.8 trillion as of Q1 2014.
BNP Paribas Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB) is the global investment banking arm of BNP Paribas, the largest banking group in the world. In October 2010, BNP Paribas was ranked by Bloomberg and Forbes as the largest bank and largest company in the world by assets with over US$3.1 trillion. BNP Paribas CIB's main centres are in Paris and London, with large scale operations in New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and smaller operations in almost every financial centre in the world. It employs 185,000 people across 56 countries and provides financing, advisory and capital markets services. BNP Paribas CIB is a globally recognised leader in two areas of expertise: trading derivatives on all asset classes, and structured financing. BNP Paribas CIB also has a large corporate advisory network in Europe and Asia. BNP Paribas CIB has 13,000 clients, consisting of companies, financial institutions, governments, investment funds and hedge funds.
The financial crisis of 2007–08, also known as the global financial crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, was a severe worldwide economic crisis considered by many economists to have been the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, to which it is often compared.
The Islamic banking and finance movement that developed in the late 20th century as part of the revival of Islamic identity sought to create an alternative to conventional banking that complied with sharia (Islamic) law. Following sharia it banned from its practices riba (usury) – which it defined as any interest paid on all loans of money – and involvement in haram (forbidden) goods or services such as pork or alcohol. It also forbids gambling (maisir) and excessive risk.
As of 2004 financial services in the United States represented 20% of the market capitalization of the S&P 500 in the United States.