Since the 1980s a new phase of capitalism has developed, first in the US and then in Europe, in which the financial sector plays a leading role. Innovation, deregulation and internationalisation have led to a marked growth of both financial institutions and of financial markets.
The profits of the financial sector have risen; the financial sector has obliged non-financial companies to give priority to raising short-term financial returns by promoting so-called ‘share-holder value’; and non-financial companies have obtained a larger share of their profits from financial activities. But this has also led to rising inequality and heightened instability, culminating in the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. Research will be concerned with examining these developments and the conflicts they have thrown up, and in considering appropriate new forms of regulation, both at a national and international level.