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Building cities on financial assets: The financialisation of property markets and its implications for city governments in the Paris city-region

Abstract : The 2008 global financial meltdown has redirected attention to the entwinement of financial markets and the urban built environment. Against that background, recent works in urban political economy have focused on how city governments support the rent-maximisation strategies of landowners, thereby reinforcing ‘the increasing tendency to treat land as a financial asset’ (Harvey, [1982]2006). However, this perspective paradoxically understates the importance of market finance actors, neglecting to demonstrate how, in practice, such financial investors, who have been shown to adopt selective investment practices, shape urban redevelopment projects. In this article, the role of financial investors is analysed through a case study of a large-scale redevelopment project on the outskirts of the Paris city-region (city of Saint-Ouen). The analysis of negotiations over urban design and economic development issues – raised by property developers seeking to fashion commercial properties as investment assets – reveals the unevenness of a local authority’s ability to implement an agenda that potentially diverges from the expectations of financial investors. Accordingly, given the growing importance of investors in the ownership of the built environment, the article considers urban redevelopment as the outcome of power relations that originate in the circulation of investors’ expectations. These expectations are met through translating market finance categories (risk, return and liquidity) into elements of the urban fabric. This bears substantial consequences for policy-making, given the current context of austerity, as municipal authorities are increasingly constrained to rely on property markets. Urban redevelopment projects are thereby increasingly shaped to provide investment assets for financial investors.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 5:00:16 PM
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Guironnet et al. (2016) Buildi...
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Antoine Guironnet, Katia Attuyer, Ludovic Halbert. Building cities on financial assets: The financialisation of property markets and its implications for city governments in the Paris city-region. Urban Studies, 2016, 53 (7), pp.1442-1464. ⟨10.1177/0042098015576474⟩. ⟨halshs-01289407⟩



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