The FIRE Economy
The FIRE economy – finance, insurance and real estate – is now the world’s principal source of wealth creation. Its rise has transformed our political, economic and social landscapes. From rising inequality and ballooning household debt to a global financial crisis and fiscal austerity, instability has accompanied this new orthodoxy. Yet it has proven remarkably resilient, even resurgent, in New Zealand and abroad. Examining the FIRE economy takes Jane Kelsey back to her bestselling account of the neoliberal revolution, The New Zealand Experiment. The systematic transfer of power first detailed in that groundbreaking work is shown to have advanced, embedding neoliberalism in New Zealand. The FIRE economy is sustained by the norms, rules and institutions of this new orthodoxy – a complex web of global finance, light regulation, debt, risk tolerance and property bubbles. The continuing narrative of neoliberalism in New Zealand reveals financial crises to be inherent to the very structure of the FIRE economy. How we respond to New Zealand’s future crises, however, means questioning what responses the failing neoliberal orthodoxy will actually permit. In detailing the barriers the FIRE economy presents to change in New Zealand, Kelsey points towards socially progressive, post-neoliberal futures.
Jane Kelsey is one of New Zealand’s most acute social commentators. Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, she is actively committed to social justice in her teaching, her work on Māori sovereignty, and her international research and advocacy on the crisis in globalisation. For several decades her work has centred on the interface between globalisation and domestic neoliberalism, with particular reference to free trade and investment agreements. Jane is currently researching national and international techniques for embedding neoliberalism as barriers to transformation to a post-neoliberal era. Professor Kelsey is committed to socio-legal scholarship which brings law into contact with politics, economics, social justice, colonisation and international relations. She has written a number of books and many articles critical of the neoliberal restructuring of the New Zealand state, Treaty of Waitangi policy and international economic regulation. A committed public intellectual, Jane is a frequent media commentator, public speaker and participant in international forums on globalisation and structural adjustment. Professor Kelsey travels extensively, talking on globalisation, free trade agreements and lessons for other countries from New Zealand’s neoliberal experiment to a wide range of audiences. She is frequently invited to deliver international lectures and conference addresses, provides intellectual leadership in international policy debates, is commissioned to write expert reports, and advises governments and international NGOs.
1. The Rise of the FIRE Economy
2. Neoliberalism and Financialisation
3. The Anatomy of the Finance Industry
4. Risk-Tolerant Financial Regulation
5. Economic Constitutionalism
6. Global Finance Rules
7. State-Finance Intimacy
8. Social Realities of FIRE
9. Responses to Crises