Louis Moreno – The Urban Rent-Seeking Question: commercial real estate, financial intermediation and collective consumption in British cities

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Event Date 22 – 23 May 2012
Royal Holloway University of London
11 Bedford Sq
London WC1E 6DP

The Department of Geography at Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Speculating on Slums

 

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This two day workshop in May 2012 in Bedford Square, London will examine the role played by global financial investments in land markets and globalised networks of capital in slums of developing countries. It questions some of the underlying assumptions through which informal housing in the global South has been understood, gives insights into new emerging forms of marginality, highlights contradictory, complex tensions that emerge for donors, governments, and NGOs in relation to the urban poor. The workshop draws together interdisciplinary intellectual debates, key conceptual, political and policy lessons which will enable a new research agenda for work in informal housing in the global South. Leading academic scholars working on informal housing issues and NGO practitioners will be the main selective participants in the workshop.

Louis Moreno (University College London)
The Urban Rent-Seeking Question: commercial real estate, financial intermediation and collective consumption in British cities

Keynes famously concluded The General Theory of Employment with the provocative claim that “the euthanasia of the rentier, of the functionless investor” in Britain would be driven by the requirement for full employment of resources. As it becomes clear that the UK economy (like other countries) has in recent decades been dominated by a global financial sector motivated more by “extracting rents from the real economy” (Turner 2010) rather than productive investments that boost overall welfare, there is an urgent need to understand and challenge the consensus on growth that took hold in recent decades. This paper considers the kind of urban development that has defined the post-industrial economy of UK inner-cities over the last decade. Revisiting the ‘urban rent’ debate of Harvey, Haila and others, I consider what evidence there is to support the claim that the last wave of capital accumulation produced an urban space led by the requirements of financial sectors and investors. The paper concludes with a call for a return to research and analysis on urban rent, fixed capital and the political economic role of the built environment,  to illuminate and challenge the ‘social property relations’ that set the rules of economic activity in cities today.

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