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German Finance Capitalism: The Paradigm Shift Underlying Financial Diversification

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This article is concerned with the genesis of German financial liberalisation. A refined inventory of financial system change – including new meso-level data on finance pattern and the marketisation of banking – reveals a varied pattern of change across German finance. It is argued that this financial diversification can only be understood with careful reference to the underlying ideational factors. An analytical narrative traces how technocratic ideas of financial modernisation during the 1980s began to open up space for the political program of finance capitalism to absorb liberal and leftist discontents with insider control and bank dominance. Upon reaching a tipping point of discursive dominance, the program was distinctly adopted across the political economy as the result of compartmentally different political, ideational and structural factors; creating a non-hegemonic financial paradigm that became identifiable in the face of recent crises. By developing analytical steps that link incremental and dynamic theories of institutional change in a conceptual framework of belief shifts, the paper contributes to efforts of adapting existing models of change to complex domains and accounting for the dynamic nature of the paradigm-generating process. The findings inform the larger debate about internal capitalist diversity and the coherence of national economic models.
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Keywords: Financial liberalisation; Germany; financialization; ideational institutionalism; paradigm shifts

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication date: May 4, 2018

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