Financialisation is “… the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.” (Epstein, 2005, p. 3). The financial sector is banking and finance, insurance, real estate, and auxiliary services.

If financialisation is the increase in the share of this sector in current GDP, the process is apparent in the UK (10% 1976 -> 20% 2008), France (10% -> 13%), Italy (4% -> 11%) and the USA (5% -> 9%). The UK is the most financialised large economy, led by London as a world financial centre. Even social care has seen widespread financialisation in the UK (IPPR, 2019).

The sector has grown through a process of regulatory capture, starting from the Thatcher-Reagan “big bang” deregulation 1979 onwards. The process culminated in the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, caused by unrestrained creation of new financial instruments, excessive leverage and systemic weakness in re-insurance against losses. These problems remain.

Source: IMF (2019)

Relevant papers:

The finance curse: how the outsized power of the city of London makes Britain poorer” – Shaxson, 2018 (The Guardian)

Who cares? Financialistion in social care” – The Progressive Policy Think Tank, 2019

Financial effects in historic consumption and investment functions” – Stockhammer and Bengtsson, 2019

Tax Justice Network

City Political Economy Research Centre

Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project. Co-ordinator: Malcolm Sawyer, Leeds University, FESSUD studies


Epstein, G. A. (2005) “Introduction: Financialization and the World Economy”, in G. A. Epstein (ed.), Financialization and the World Economy, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, Cheltenham. pp. 3-16. Available on Google Books.

Christopherson, S., Martin, R. and Pollard, J. (2013) Financialisation: roots and repercussions, Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society, 6, 351-357. DOI:doi:10.1093/cjres/rst023.

Palley, T.I. (2013) Financialization: The Economics of Finance Capital Domination, Houndmills, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. Available on Google Books.

Sawyer, M. (2014) What is Financialization, International Journal of Political Economy, 42:4, 5-18. DOI:

Van Der Zwan, N. (2014) Making Sense of Financialization, Socio-Economic Review, 12:1, 99-129. DOI:

Christensen, J., Shaxson, N. and Wigan, D. (2016) The Finance Curse: Britain and the World Economy, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 18:1, 255-269. DOI:

Shaxson, N. (2018) The finance curse: How global finance is making us all poorer, The Bodley Head, London. Available on Google Books.

Blakeley, G. and Quilter-Pinner, H. (2019) Who Cares? The Financialisation Of Adult Social Care, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). PDF available here.

Stockhammer, E. and Bengtsson, E. (2019) Financial effects in historic consumption and investment functions. Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues, No. 2019:188. PDF available here.

View all resources
Go to Top