Martijn Konings, Associate Professor of Political Economy, University of Sydney
Part of the Urban Challenge Project Seminars
Amidst a wider trend of volatile financial growth, house prices have emerged as the asset class that is most directly linked to new patterns of social and economic inequality. This is visible in almost all major cities in Western countries, where the growth of house prices has outstripped wage growth for many years. In part, this is leading to households shouldering levels of mortgage debt that appear increasingly unsustainable; alternatively, people get locked out of property markets altogether. But despite the growing awareness of these problems, an actionable set of policy proposals is not in sight. Indeed, currently more prominent is a certain scepticism about the likelihood of effective institutional reform, as reflected in the prominence of concepts such as "regulatory capture" and "secular stagnation". Rather than reproducing this sense of policy paralysis, this presentation aims to explain how certain policy realities and logics have been constructed over time and how this has made policies that balance political, economic, and social considerations appear unavailable. Examining the rise of a culture of asset ownership and the ways this has generated specific constituencies that drive a particular politics of financial governance, the paper will outline the conceptual and empirical contours of a political economy of contemporary property.
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