chapter  27D
4 Pages

Essay Forum: Labor in Financialization

A Dual Democratization of Finance? Labor’s Political Question after Financialization
WithMichael A. McCarthy

For organized labor in the US, involvement in financial investment and speculation preceded the onset of financialization itself by at least two decades. Workers’ finance has turned toward investment strategies that are inextricably tied up with speculative financial markets – in the US, for instance, by the mid-1970s occupational pension funds controlled nearly 25 percent of all American corporate equity. Financial intermediaries and financial companies in the private market have been the primary beneficiaries as poor people have been forced into new strategies for survival, a process that has been highly profitable for financial companies. Normatively, social dilemmas related to austerity, inequality, and wage stagnation make questions related to how workers might democratically decide how toallocate their financial assets pressing for researchers. Even in the case of the Swedish wage-earner funds, what was once a socialist strategy turned out to usher in a complex and contradictory form of neoliberalization since the 1990s.