Financialization and the Uses of History
This chapter focuses on the uses of history for understanding financialization. Take a well-known formulation, G. A. Epstein’s definition of financialization as the “increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies”. Such a reference to financialization cannot help us to discriminate between different developments that relate to finance. The chapter draws on what is needed to frame the historical study of financialization in more productive ways. It argues that a more substantive conceptualization explicitly based on concrete financial practices is needed in order to turn financialization into a proper object of historical enquiry. One of the most important sources of inspiration for the work on financialization has been the influential economist Hyman Minsky who used the repeated occurrence of financial crises as the basis for a cyclical analysis of the economy which placed finance at its centre.