The Europe of the big banks

In the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the priority for European regulators was to "tackle, in the words of former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, the problem of banks too big to fail". Ten years on, most of Europe's big banks have become bigger and more complex. While the crisis seemed to be coming to an end, how can we explain the advent of the Europe of big banks? To answer this question, this project is part of a strong tradition of political economy and economic sociology which places the hybridisation of public and private actors at the heart of the transformations of capitalism. Its central hypothesis is that the normative construction of a community of power between banks and national states - more precisely their executive branches - explains the banking policies conducted in post-crisis Europe. Because they conceive the economic and geopolitical power of the state and the banks as going hand in hand, banking and state elites form consortia whose priority is to promote the global expansion of "their" big banks. However, these banking policies are contested. Conflicts are emerging between national states and European institutions or within national states themselves, between different public authorities. Different forms of contestation also appear in public opinion and in certain segments of civil society. At a general level, this project formulates a second hypothesis according to which the lack of institutional resources of actors outside the consortia has limited their ideal and material capacities to develop and defend alternative banking policies to those pursued by national consortia. This project adopts a multi-method approach based on the comparison of post-crisis banking policies in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

The New Politics of Industrial Policy in Europe

My second project examines the new politics of state-led private investment. Not long ago, the figure of the investment state was fading away as it did not seem compatible with the dominant credo of neoliberal pro-market policies. Yet in recent years, it has made a striking comeback. Several states have announced with much fanfare their commitment to “greening” the economy or investing in sustainable growth. State-backed development banking and public-private investment in the private sector have blossomed. Do the late 2010s mark the return of the state as an investor promoting coherent long-term oriented industrial policy? Or is the new investment state more of a counter-cyclical instrument and a palliative to the most glaring market failures? To answer this question, I use quantitative-qualitative assessment of state-led private investment since the 1980s in Europe.

Anti-finance opinions, business power and democracy

My third research project investigates the different mechanisms through which anti-finance opinions in different segments of society may influence radical politics and “populist” policymaking, or, on the contrary, may lead to sounder democratic processes of checks and balances to the power of finance. The first step of the project consists in understanding the emergence of diverse anti-finance opinions in different segments of society (social media, mainstream media, political parties, civil society's organizations) and trace how they get diffused (or not) across the other segments of society. Building on text-analysis and archival data, I use both contemporary and historical post-crisis contexts as case studies.