Mapping the World’s Economies

Mapping the world’s economies



The fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography 2015, the world’s biggest economic geography conference, started yesterday (19 August) at Oxford’s Exam Schools.

The multidisciplinary event is hosted by the University’s School of Geography and the Environment and The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, with nearly 700 delegates attending from over 50 countries.

One of the keynote speakers is Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Economics of Sustainability Programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. He will  talk about green growth, saying we are not running out of fossil fuels, with the next few decades promising a super abundance of energy at low cost through technologies such as solar photovoltaics. He will warn, however, that protecting natural capital, such as climate, biodiversity, and fisheries, involves political alignment that frequently does not exist.

Researchers Duncan MacDonald-Korth and Professor Dariusz Wójcik, who specialises in financial geography, will present a paper showing how New York has dominated growth in the asset management sector since the crisis of 2008-09, taking an even more commanding lead over rivals. By 2012, the US held 48.7% of all global assets under management, with the UK at 8.1%, Germany, France, Japan at around 7%, and Switzerland trailing in sixth place at 4.3%. The top ranked asset manager was New York-based BlackRock, which in 2012 held 55% more assets than its next competitor while two other US firms – State Street and Vanguard – were also in the top four firms globally for asset management, the paper says.

In another paper, Dr Daniel Haberley from the University of Sussex and Professor Dariusz Wójcik examine the resilience of the world’s financial centres after the global economic crisis, and conclude that the future stability of the UK is perhaps the most uncertain of all. In an era where attention has focused on the sustainability of public financial debts, they say there should be more concern about the potential amount of private foreign debt being held by British banks, which it describes as ‘the greatest threat to the national solvency’. The most resilient models in offshore banking were found to be those with currency sovereignty, such as Hong Kong and Singapore. The paper says, in theory, Eurozone offshore banking centres should have been in a strong position to weather the crisis as they have their own currency.

However, ironically, the own currency debts of Eurozone member banks are described as ‘more destabilising’ than the foreign currency debts of other countries’ banks. The study argues this is because of the refusal of the European Central Bank to unconditionally backstop the debts of its member states, which ‘disproportionately’ impacted Eurozone offshore banking centres – a situation which should have been ‘easily avoidable’, according to the paper.

Geographers, economists, regional scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal scholars, policy makers, and industry practitioners will be speaking at the event