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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

The Political Economy of Asset-Manager Capitalism and Patient Capital

Benjamin Braun

The rise of asset management companies (AMCs) such as BlackRock and Vanguard is trans-forming capitalist economies. AMCs invest capital on behalf of institutional investors such as pension funds and insurers, as well as retail investors. They occupy a central position in an investment chain which connects the ultimate providers of capital (households) to the ultimate users of capital (firms). In light of the unprecedented sizes of the biggest AMCs, it is fair to say that in terms of corporate ownership and control, the global economy has entered a stage of asset-manager capitalism. At the heart of this project stands the question, central to comparative political economy, of the nature and the sources of long-term, "patient" capital. The varieties-of-capitalism framework routinely treats market-based capital as inherently "impatient." However, the size and predominantly passive investment strategies of AMCs virtually force them to act as patient investors. This project therefore treats the (im)patience of market-based capital as an empirical question and contributes to our understanding of the temporal structures of capitalism. To understand how the global rise of AMCs interacts with national institutions and affects power relations within investment chains, the project will conduct a comparative analysis of the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands. Project duration: September 2016 to August 2022.
Braun, Benjamin. 2016. "From Performativity to Political Economy: Index Investing, ETFs and Asset Manager Capitalism." New Political Economy 21: 257-73.
Braun, Benjamin. 2016. "Gross, Greed, and ETFs: The Case for a Micro-Founded Political Economy of the Investment Chain." Economic Sociology 17: 6-13.
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