Households and banks have increasingly displaced non-financial businesses and governments as the primary debtors in modern capitalist economies. This shift is important, but how? New research suggests that changes in capital allocation have caused rising domestic and international inequality, the global slowdown of growth, and the emergence of long-term macroeconomic imbalances. Even so, there has been relatively little comparative research done into the determinants of national approaches to credit – that is, how and why do governments encourage or mitigate household and financial sector borrowing? My research delves into the nature, consequences, and causes of this fundamental reorientation of capital in advanced industrial economies.
My dissertation, “Destructive Creation: The Unintended Consequences of the Rise of Finance” approached this through two extended case studies, examining why Britain and France reacted so differently to the post-liberalization cycle of credit-fueled boom and debt-fueled recession during the late-1980s and early-1990s. I argued that France recoiled from the instability and inequality generated by its 1980s credit boom while Britain did not, leading to particularly divergent attitudes toward household debt in the late 1990s and 2000s. That dissertation has been substantially rewritten, expanded to include Germany, and turned into my first book, “The Great Debt Transformation,”published in 2016 with Palgrave Macmillan.
Post-dissertation, my research has followed two threads: One focuses on systemic approaches to household credit across the OECD. My first peer-reviewed article — published in Politics & Society — provides a means of holistically assessing national approaches to credit by determining whether an economy generally encourages or mitigates household borrowing. The second thread, explored in a recent piece in New Political Economy argues that economists and policymakers systematically underplay the role of capital flows in driving current account imbalances. The upshot of this argument is that capital outflows from large savers (like Germany) are just as destabilizing as over-borrowing in places like Greece.
Broadly speaking, all of my research is (1) generally focused on empirically puzzles relevant to both academia and policymakers, (2) fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing from literature and traditions in Political Science, Economics, and Sociology, and (3) methodologically eclectic, deploying a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
A partial list of publications (with links where possible) is below:
“Exporting Assets: EMU and the Financial Drivers of European Macroeconomic Imbalances,” New Political Economy, 2017
“Financial Integration and the National State,” with Erik Jones in Reconfiguring European States in Crisis,” edited by Desmond King and Patrick Le Galès, Oxford University Press, 2017
“The Great Debt Transformation: Households, Financialization, and Policy Responses,” Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.
“Who’s Borrowing? Credit Encouragement vs. Credit Mitigation in National Financial Systems,” Politics & Society, 2015
“Destructive Creation: The Unintended Consequences of the Rise of Finance,” dissertation awarded pass with distinction.
“European Macroeconomic Governance,” with Erik Jones, in European Union Power and Policymaking, edited by Jeremy Richardson. 4th Edition. Routledge, 2015.
“Europe and the Global Economic Crisis,” with Erik Jones, in Europe Today, edited by Ronald Tiersky and Erik Jones. 5th Edition. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
“The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis: Does the EU Matter?” Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs, 12 (Spring), 2009.
Numerous contributions to the EU Center of Excellence “Business Briefs” series.