chapter  23
12 Pages

Trusts and Financialization1

WithBrooke Harrington

Trusts are often used to structure international finance as well as private wealth, although they have been overlooked in the financialization literature in favor of corporations. Trusts are a type of asset-holding structure that facilitate the profit maximization and international capital mobility characteristic of financialization. This chapter argues that they contribute to financialization in three significant ways: by consolidating the power of the investor as the central figure in the global economy; by facilitating the dominance of Anglo-American finance; and by increasing the autonomy of finance from the nation-state system. Trusts are asset-holding structures that maximize capital mobility and profits through what one scholar calls a set of “tricks” for “manipulating facets of ownership”. In addition to divided ownership, the other conceptually distinctive aspect of trusts is their status and treatment in law. The distinctive way that trusts organize asset ownership has made them useful not only for wealthy individuals, but for corporations.