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Putting 'Merchants of Debt' in Their Place: The Political Economy of Retail Banking and Credit-Based Financialisation in Germany

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Mertens,  Daniel
Institutioneller Wandel im gegenwärtigen Kapitalismus, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;
Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany;

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Zitation

Mertens, D. (2017). Putting 'Merchants of Debt' in Their Place: The Political Economy of Retail Banking and Credit-Based Financialisation in Germany. New Political Economy, 22(1), 12-30. doi:10.1080/13563467.2016.1195344.


Zitierlink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-171F-B
Zusammenfassung
Why did household debt in Germany not increase after the year 2000? This article offers a supply-side explanation for this deviant debt trajectory by tracing the historical evolution of retail banking in the German political economy. It argues that at the end of the 1990s and in the light of European Monetary Union, profitability issues and banking fragmentation became severe enough to interrupt the path towards credit-based financialisation as prevalent among other capitalist economies. These factors interacted with a traditional lack of tools and incentives for rapid credit expansion, even though they were renegotiated in the processes of financial liberalisation, internationalisation and innovation. By employing historical-qualitative as well as statistical evidence for the argument, the paper’s contribution becomes twofold. First, it introduces and conceptualises retail banking as a focal point in the analysis of national financial systems and their transformation. Second, it complicates the standard accounts of German non-financialisation and reveals the ‘contested’ character of financial reform.