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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the constitutive elements of global finance, and specifically high finance. It argues that global finance has debordered the narrowly defined notion of financial firms and markets, and financial institutions generally. The first section examines the different organizing logic of Bretton Woods internationalism from that of the post-1980s global era. The second section examines the organizing logic of the post-1980s era. The third section discusses the major growth patterns and conditions for growth of the post-1980s financial system, which brings to the fore the differences between finance and other economic sectors. The fourth section examines the slippery relation between finance and exchanges and, more generally, financial centres, both of which are institutionalized spaces rather than institutions per se. This issues is examined through the problem of ‘incomplete knowledge’ facing all firms and investors in market economies, and the role of financial centres in making knowledge; in the case of finance, the problem of ‘incomplete knowledge’ can become acute given the velocities and orders of magnitude involved.

Keywords: global financial system, high finance, financial firms, Bretton Woods internationalism, financial centres, exchanges, incomplete knowledge

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