CNA documantary interview on Lehman Brothers

I was interviewed as part of Channel NewsAsia’s “Inside the Storm” documentary series on the failings of global businesses. The last episode (aired on 24 January 2016) was on the fall of Lehman Brothers. The programme can be viewed here. For those who don’t want to watch all 46 minutes of the programme, I appear mainly around 2:20-3:42 and 38:40-43:23.

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Teaching update for next academic year 2016/2017

The module information for GE1101E/GEK1001 Geographical Journeys: Exploring World Environments (Semester 2, 2015/2016) has now been updated here. For the full syllabus and further information, please refer to the IVLE course webpage.

For academic year 2016/2017, I will be teaching the following modules. Please note that these will be in different semesters compared to previous years.

Applications now open for Summer Institute in Economic Geography (Kentucky 2016)

Applications are now open for the Summer Institute in Economic Geography, Kentucky, July 10-15 2016.

Early-career economic geographers (of all stripes) who are recently appointed faculty, postdocs, and doctoral students are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for applications is January 8, 2016 when the material will be reviewed by an international panel. Applicants will be notified of decisions in February 2016 and those selected will need to commit to attend the Summer Institute by May 15, 2016.

Local costs of the meeting are fully covered and stipends will be available to cover the costs of travel to the meeting for those participants without other sources of funding.

For more details, please visit: http://www.econgeog.net/kentucky2016/index.html

EGRG call for session proposals, RGS-IBG Conference 2016

CALL FOR SESSION PROPOSALS

for the Economic Geography Research Group (EGRG), Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual Conference 2016, London

The Committee of the EGRG would like to invite proposals for sessions to be sponsored by the EGRG at the 2016 Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (RGS-IBG). We are able to sponsor numerous sessions which, in total, account for no more than 12 time slots (usually 1-2 time slots per session), and are looking forward to EGRG having its usual presence at the forthcoming annual event.

Sessions may take the form of presented papers, panels, practitioner forums, discussions or workshops, and innovative sessions and formats are encouraged. We would also welcome joint sessions with other research groups. Proposals should relate to debates, literatures or approaches in economic geography (http://www.egrg.rgs.org/).

Conference details
Date: Tuesday 30th August to Friday 2nd September 2016
Location: The Royal Geographical Society, London
Conference Theme: Nexus Thinking [Conference website

Proposals for, or questions about, EGRG sponsored sessions should be sent to Sarah Marie Hall (sarah.m.hall@manchester.ac.uk) by Tuesday 22nd December 2015. Please include (i) Session title; (ii) Name of co-sponsoring groups, if applicable (iii) Name and contact details for session convenors (iv) Abstract, outlining scope of session (v) Number of session time slots requested – usually up to 2 time slots per session (100 minutes each) (vi) Indication of any non-standard arrangements, e.g. video-conferencing.

The EGRG will confirm details of their sponsored sessions mid January 2016.

Interview by Channel NewsAsia on POSB bank, 2 Nov 2015

I was recently interviewed by Channel NewsAsia for a news segment on 138 years of POSB Bank. The programme can be viewed here:
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video/posb-138-years-on-for/2234040.html

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Interview by Channel NewsAsia for news programme ‘Singapore Tonight’, 2 November 2015

Insights on the financial consumers and changes in Singapore’s banking landscape came out of a research project on financial subject formation and the financialisation of everyday life. Specific remarks were based on this journal article co-authored with a former student:
Lai, Karen P.Y. and Tan, Choon Hang (2015) ‘ “Neighbours First, Bankers Second”: Mobilising financial citizenship in Singapore‘, Geoforum, Vol. 64, pp. 65-77.

Applications open for 2016 EGRG Phd Prize

Each year, the Economic Geography Research Group (EGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) (RGS-IBG) award a £100 prize to the best PhD dissertation in the field of economic geography (broadly defined). The prize is kindly sponsored by Sage.

Previous winners are listed on the EGRG website:
http://www.egrg.rgs.org/prizes

In order to be considered for the award, please email an electronic version of the thesis to Dr Jennifer Johns (j.johns@liverpool.ac.uk) by Friday 29th January 2016. This must an absolutely final version of a thesis that has passed the degree for which it has been submitted at a UK institution during 2015. If you have any doubts about eligibility, please contact Dr Jennifer Johns. Submitted theses will be reviewed by the EGRG committee and winners will be announced in April/May 2016.

2nd CFP: Remaking the Global Economy (AAG 2016)

SECOND CALL FOR PAPERS

The 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 29 March to 2 April 2016

Remaking the Global Economy

Organisers:
Karen Lai and Godfrey Yeung (National University of Singapore)

Sponsored by:
Economic Geography Specialty Group
Global Production Networks Centre at the National University of Singapore (GPN@NUS)

We invite papers that addresses the theme of ‘Remaking the Global Economy’. In conjunction with paper sessions, there will be a special panel discussion on this topic. Confirmed panellists so far include: Alex Hughes (Newcastle University), Andrew Jones (City University London), Andrés Rodríguez-Pose (London School of Economics), Eric Sheppard (UCLA) and Michael Storper (London School of Economics).

Whether from the perspectives of production networks, finance, labour or state institutions, economic geographers have made substantive contributions to understanding globalization as an uneven, differentiated and dynamic process. In particular, a strong and growing body of literature has emerged over the last decade in economic geography and cognate disciplines that uses a global production networks (GPN) framework to investigate and explain economic globalization and regional development. Building on earlier Global Commodity Chain (GCC) and Global Value Chain (GVC) approaches in economic sociology and development studies, GPN research has made steady progress in theoretical as well as empirical terms and produced sophisticated analyses of socio-economic development at scales ranging from the global to the local. However, the same dynamic character of global economic change also compels us to look outward and forward to explore new frontiers of global economic shifts and developmental outcomes. This series of themed sessions and panel(s) will explore dynamic shifts in global production networks (broadly defined) along five key domains: firms, finance, consumption, state and labour.

We encourage empirically or theoretically informed paper submissions that reflect on these five domains. Research questions and issues could include (but are not limited to):

  • To what extent have there been global shifts in corporate strategies and evolution of production networks of firms over the past decade? Are these shifts sector specific?
  • To what extent are shifting geographies of demand (e.g. growing middle class in Asia and Latin America) shaping global dynamics of production, trade and services?
  • How are financial and business services reshaping the production networks of firms and processes of capitalist market formation?
  • What are the impacts of new financial actors and networks such as sovereign wealth funds and venture capital on the reformulation of corporate strategies and remaking of production networks?
  • How do we conceptualize changing power relations amongst nation-states, firms and non-firm actors, and what are the implications for national and global governance?
  • What are the roles and impacts of small and medium enterprises in global production networks and how do they vary across different industries and regions?
  • To what extent are changing labour standards reshaping production networks governance and what are their developmental impacts?
  • How are protocols and institutional frameworks such as product certification, environmental standards and international governance structures reshaping corporate strategies, economic relationships and outcomes?
  • How are non-state and non-firm actors reshaping the spatiality and territorialisation of global economic processes?

Please send abstracts of not more than 250 words to Karen Lai (karenlai@nus.edu.sg) or Godfrey Yeung (geoykyg@nus.edu.sg) by 9 October 2015. We will confirm inclusion in this theme by 16 October 2015, in time for the AAG registration deadline of 29 October 2015.

The AAG website (http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/about_the_meeting) provides more information about the annual meeting.

New paper: ‘Financial advisors, financial ecologies and the variegated financialisation of everyday investors’

My new paper titled ‘Financial advisors, financial ecologies and the variegated financialisation of everyday investors‘, published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, is now available on Early View.

Abstract 
While recent work on financialisation of everyday life has elucidated the reshaping of everyday consumers as risk-taking investors, the role of financial advisors (FAs) has been overlooked, even though they are key intermediaries in articulating households and individuals into circuits of global finance. Through a financial ecologies approach, this paper focuses on FAs to reveal the ambiguities and inconsistencies inherent in their professional practice as varied modes of corporate management and organisational practices lead to differentiated encounters that shape the financial knowledge and investment decisions of clients. Empirical analysis is based on industry reports, regulatory documents, personal interviews and ethnographic fieldwork at professional training and networking events. The findings demonstrate how professional intermediaries like FAs are vital in explaining the shifting and uneven configuration of investor subjects. A critical analysis of FAs reveals how the decision making process and investment practices of consumers are fraught with knowledge asymmetries and embedded in distinctive financial ecologies with variegated outcomes. The ecologies concept is mobilised to explain the resilience or fragility of relational formations, the entanglement of diverse elements and motivations in the variegated formation of investor subjects, and the operation of constitutive ecologies within the financial system.

Keywords 
financialisation; financial advisors; ecologies; interviews; ethnography; Singapore

CFP: Remaking the global economy (AAG 2016, San Francisco)

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 29 March to 2 April 2016

Remaking the Global Economy

Organisers:
Karen Lai and Godfrey Yeung (National University of Singapore)

Sponsored by:
Economic Geography Specialty Group
Global Production Networks Centre at the National University of Singapore (GPN@NUS)

We invite papers that addresses the theme of ‘Remaking the Global Economy’. In conjunction with paper sessions, there will be a special panel discussion on this topic. Confirmed panellists so far include: Alex Hughes (Newcastle University), Andrew Jones (City University London), Andrés Rodríguez-Pose (London School of Economics), Eric Sheppard (UCLA), and Michael Storper (London School of Economics).

Whether from the perspectives of production networks, finance, labour or state institutions, economic geographers have made substantive contributions to understanding globalisation as an uneven, differentiated and dynamic process. In particular, a strong and growing body of literature has emerged over the last decade in economic geography and cognate disciplines that uses a global production networks (GPN) framework to investigate and explain economic globalization and regional development. Building on earlier Global Commodity Chain (GCC) and Global Value Chain (GVC) approaches in economic sociology and development studies, GPN research has made steady progress in theoretical as well as empirical terms and produced sophisticated analyses of socio-economic development at scales ranging from the global to the local. However, the same dynamic character of global economic change also compels us to look outward and forward to explore new frontiers of global economic shifts and developmental outcomes. This series of themed sessions and panel(s) will explore dynamic shifts in global production networks (broadly defined) along five key domains: firms, finance, consumption, state and labour.

We encourage empirically or theoretically informed paper submissions that reflect on these five domains. Research questions and issues could include (but are not limited to):

  • To what extent have there been global shifts in corporate strategies and evolution of production networks of firms over the past decade? Are these shifts sector specific?
  • To what extent are shifting geographies of demand (e.g. growing middle class in Asia and Latin America) shaping global dynamics of production, trade and services?
  • How are financial and business services reshaping the production networks of firms and processes of capitalist market formation?
  • What are the impacts of new financial actors and networks such as sovereign wealth funds and venture capital on the reformulation of corporate strategies and remaking of production networks?
  • How do we conceptualize changing power relations amongst nation-states, firms and non-firm actors, and what are the implications for national and global governance?
  • What are the roles and impacts of small and medium enterprises in global production networks and how do they vary across different industries and regions?
  • To what extent are changing labour standards reshaping production networks governance and what are their developmental impacts?
  • How are protocols and institutional frameworks such as product certification, environmental standards and international governance structures reshaping corporate strategies, economic relationships and outcomes?
  • How are non-state and non-firm actors reshaping the spatiality and territorialisation of global economic processes?

Please send expressions of interests/queries and abstracts (of not more than 250 words) to Karen Lai (karenlai@nus.edu.sg) or Godfrey Yeung (geoykyg@nus.edu.sg) by 30 September 2015. The AAG website (http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/about_the_meeting) provides more information about the annual meeting.

4th GCEG and launch of Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo)

I had a most fruitful time at the Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography (4th GCEG) held in Oxford, 19-23 August 2015. Plenty of intellectual stimulation, meeting up with old friends, and making new connections. The plenary sessions were of top quality and many interesting papers presented over three full days.

Before the official start of the conference, there was a pre-conference workshop organised by the editors of the forthcoming New Oxford Handbook on Economic Geography. It was very useful to meet and discuss with the editors and fellow authors about the overall objective and structure of the edited volume, and gain a better understanding of the production timeline and how other authors have written their chapters.

With editors and fellow authors: Meric Gertler, Gordon Clark, Dariuz Wojcik, Henry Yeung, Neil Coe, Ashby Monk, Robin Leichenko, Alex Hughes, Janelle Knox-Hayes, Matt Zook and others

With editors and fellow authors: Meric Gertler, Gordon Clark, Dariuz Wojcik, Henry Yeung, Neil Coe, Ashby Monk, Robin Leichenko, Alex Hughes, Janelle Knox-Hayes, Matt Zook and others

The opening reception and plenary lecture took place at the Museum of Natural History. A rather unusual but impressive setting for a gathering of economic geographers.

Opening reception

Dariusz Wojcik, chair of the 4th GCEG, speaks at the opening reception

Liu Weidong and Zhang Jun

Catching up with Liu Weidong and Zhang Jun

The Global Production Networks Centre (GPN@NUS) organised a number of paper sessions on ‘Global production economies’. I co-organised two paper sessions (with Shaun French) on ‘Financialisation of everyday life’.

One of the rooms in the Examination Schools, which was the conference venue.

One of the rooms in the Examination Schools, which was the conference venue.

Q&A at the end of paper session (one of two) on 'Financialisation of everyday life'.

Q&A at the end of paper session (one of two) on ‘Financialisation of everyday life’.

A key development was the official launch of the Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) with a special panel to highlight key research themes and directions for the new research network and a broader discussion with interested parties in the audience about how to achieve those goals. Plans are being made on workshops and events other the next few years and different modes of engagement using mailing list, working paper series, blog and social media engagement. To keep updated on developments with FinGeo and future research activities and events, you can join the mailing list by emailing Martin Sokol at sokolm@tcd.ie

Special panel to launch the Global Network on Financial Geography

Special panel to launch the Global Network on Financial Geography

From left: Martin Sokol, Simon Zhao, David Bassens, Janelle Knox-Hayes, Zoltan Gal, Sarah Hall, Dariusz Wojcik, Michael Grote, Manuel Aalbers, Karen Lai, Gary Dymski, Fabio Contel, Ewald Engelen, Fenghua Pan.

From left: Martin Sokol, Simon Zhao, David Bassens, Janelle Knox-Hayes, Zoltan Gal, Sarah Hall, Dariusz Wojcik, Michael Grote, Manuel Aalbers, Karen Lai, Gary Dymski, Fabio Contel, Ewald Engelen, Fenghua Pan.