1st FinGeo global seminar at IGC 2016, Beijing

The Regional Studies Association Research Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) is pleased to announce the preliminary program of its global seminar series. As part of the 33rd International Geographical Congress (IGC) of the International Geographical Union (IGU) to be held in Beijing, China, on 21-25 August 2016, a specialist session “Placing Finance in Urban and Regional Development” will be organized, in collaboration with the IGU “Dynamics of Economic Spaces” Commission (C08).

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION for the Congress ends in few days: 15th May (although it looks like this may be extended to 31st May). Register here: http://www.igc2016.org/dct/page/1

Preliminary Programme 

Keynote speech: How China’s Financial Reforms May Shape Its Growth and Development
Chair: Fenghua Pan, (Beijing Normal University, China)
Opening remarks: Sally Hardy, (CEO of Regional Studies Association)
Keynote speech: Winston Mok, (Private Investor and Columnist of South China Morning Post)

Panel Discussion: Asian financial centers in the age of globalizing China
Chair: Karen Lai, National University of Singapore


  • Winston Mok (Individual Investor)
  • Dariusz Wójcik, University of Oxford
  • Andrew Jones, City University of London
  • David Meyer, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Simon Xiaobin Zhao, University of Hong Kong
  • Nan Song, Silk Road Fund
  • Gang Hao, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Financial Work  (To be confirmed)

Paper session (1): Placing Finance in Urban and Regional Development
Chair: Simon Xiaobin Zhao, (University of Hong Kong, HK)

  • Financial Centre Development: New Data and Scenarios for Asia-Pacific
    Dariusz Wójcik, (University of Oxford, UK)
  • The Production of a Legal-financial ‘Nexus’ Space in Chinese Financial Centres
    Andrew Jones, (City University London, UK)
  • High Frequency Traders Challenge Hong Kong and Singapore as Financial Centers
    David Meyer, (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
  • The Spatial Agglomeration of Entrepreneurial Hedge Fund Firms in Hong Kong and Singapore
    James Lenzer, (University of Hong Kong, HK)
  • The Geography of Startup City in China: the Importance of Financial Supports
    Bofei Yang, (Beijing Normal University, China)

Paper session (2): Placing Finance in Urban and Regional Development
Chair: Dariusz Wójcik, (University of Oxford, UK)

  • From Global Financial Networks to Financial Chains: Some Preliminary Thoughts
    Martin Sokol, (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Why do Domestic and Foreign Venture Capital Firms Have Different Spatial and Network Configurations in China: A Comparison Study
    Fenghua Pan, (Beijing Normal University, China)
  • Where are Services Provided? Comparing the Financial and the Cultural Service Networks of the Pearl River Delta
    Xu Zhang, (Wuhan University of Technology, China) 
  • Listing companies and transformation to smart manufacturing in traditional industrial clusters of China: rethinking the dynamics of ‘Jinjiang Model’
    Yue Ding (Beijing Normal University, China)
  • Mapping Chinese Inter-city Cooperation NetworksA Study Based on Advanced Producer Service Firms in Initial Public Offerings
    Wenkai Bi, (Beijing Normal University, China)

Paper session (3): Placing Finance in Urban and Regional Development
Chair: Fabio Betioli Contel, (University of São Paulo, Brazil)

  • How Big is Chinese’s Real Estate Bubble and Why Hasn’t It Yet Burst: A Comparative Study between China and World Major Financial Crises 1980-2014
    Simon Xiaobin Zhao, (University of Hong Kong, HK)
  • Urban Planning in China: Land as a Leverage for Debt and Growth
    Thierry Theurillat,( LATTS, Paris-Est University, France)
  • Urban Rent and Urban Value: a Territorial Approach
    Olivier Crevoisier, (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland)
  • Regulation of Local Government Debt in case of Ukraine
    Olga Shevchenko, (The National Institute for Strategic Studies, Ukraine)
  • Relationship between effective and comprehensive financial reporting with good governance and financing urban infrastructure in Indian Context
    Tyagi Nishank, (Delhi, India)
  • Global financial crisis and hotel chains financialization in Spain: Towards new accumulation frontiers?
    Ismael Yrigoy, (Palma, Spain)

Paper session (4): Placing Finance in Urban and Regional Development
Chair: Martin Sokol, (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)

  • The New financial Technologies and the Recent Bancarization of Brazilian Population
    Fabio Betioli Contel, (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Banking Sector in Siberia and its Influence оn Regional Development
    Olga Sysoeva (The Irkutsk Scientific Center SB RAS, Irkutsk, Russia)
  • Regional Banking Market Structure and Its Determinants in China
    Baoyu Peng (Henan University, China)
  • Determinants of Financial Inclusion: a Global Perspective
    Elizabeth Bermeo, (University of Bristol, UK)
  • Financial Potential of Natural Resources for Regional Development
    Pylypiv V. V.,( University of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, Ukraine)
  • Assembling the Air Rights – a Method to Spatializing Financialisation
    Hung-Ying Chen, (Durham university, USA)


2016 AAG Meeting in San Francisco

The 2016 Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (26 March – 2 April) was the the first meeting since the official change in name (from the ‘American Association of Geographers’). The attendance certainly reflected that reality with a very international blend of audience and participants.


The 2016 AAG meeting with its new name


Part of the NUS contingent. Still smiling after flying for 18 hours

On arrival, a bunch of us from the Global Production Networks Centre (GPN@NUS) went on a boat trip courtesy of the Global Development Institute (University of Manchester). It was a beautiful (if bracing!) boat tour around the harbour and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Many thanks to Rory Horner and Uma Kothari for the invitation!


Chartered boat trip for the launch of Manchester’s Global Development Institute


Hoisting up the main sail


Sailing around the San Francisco harbour


Sunset over the bay

My schedule was rather hectic with organising and chairing sessions, presenting a paper and speaking on two panels, but it was all great fun to be part of such stimulating sessions and debates.  The GPN Centre organised a panel and 3 paper sessions (plus 3 more sessions on GPN and the environment, in collaboration with Stefano Ponte and Aarti Krishnan). The opening panel drew together a stellar group of scholars who gave their insights into future trends for the remaking of the global economy along the domains of retail and consumption, advanced business services, urban transformation, innovation and regional development, and governance. My thanks to Andrew Jones, Alex Hughes, Michael Storper, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, and Eric Sheppard for accepting the panel invitation and for kicking off such stimulating discussion. 


Our panelists for ‘Remaking the Global Economy’, AAG 2016


The room was bursting at the seams at the opening panel (Remaking the Global Economy, AAG2016)


GPN Centre sponsored dinner for our distinguished panelists

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.59.15Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 13.04.50

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


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:


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:

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)


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

Remaking the Global Economy

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.

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.

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