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Off the leash : understanding the dynamics of capital mobility in IPE

By Matthew Watson


In this paper I seek to extend much of the writing on capital mobility to be found in the IPE literature by arguing that there are two distinct types of mobility which need to be treated as analytically separable. The tendency in IPE is to think only in terms of ‘international’ capital mobility, which immediately creates the impression that for capital to be mobile it has to move from one country to another. This image conforms to what I call the spatial mobility of capital. However, capital should also be thought of as mobile in those instances in which it is deliberately reinvested in an alternative financial instrument. This is what I call the functional mobility of capital. Recent increases in capital mobility are linked to the institutionalisation of rentier interests within the financial economy, with subsequent implications for the distribution of life chances globally. In order to gain a full understanding of these implications it is necessary to be working with a perspective that recognises the dynamics of both the spatial and the functional mobility of capital

Topics: HG, HB
Publisher: BISA International Political Economy Group (IPEG)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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