Cultures of Debt Management Enter City Hall

Authored by: Laura Deruytter , Sebastian Möller

The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization

Print publication date:  February  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138308213
eBook ISBN: 9781315142876
Adobe ISBN:


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The impressive ascent of finance and its entry into ostensibly non-economic domains of life does not only yield institutional and cultural change in upper levels of the state and the everyday life of its citizens but also significantly influences local governments. In this chapter, we argue that financialization changes the way public administrators and local policy-makers in city hall think, behave, and relate to the financial sector. One particularly vivid impression from field research illustrates this ongoing transformation nicely. It comes from a German city where the head of the treasury department was interviewed about municipal borrowing practices. His office, situated in a venerable building representing the local government’s authority, radiates the spirit of past decades with its dark wood paneling, chunky furniture, and vintage paintings on the wall. You can sense that the city which currently finds itself in a rather strained financial position must have seen times of prosperity in the past. The treasurer himself has the appearance and habitus of a rather typical representative of a senior civil servant. His white hair indicates that he must have done this job for some time. So far, everything seems to fit the general perception of local government.

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