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Crowdfunding the City: The End of 'Cataclysmic Money'?

12 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2015 Last revised: 12 Dec 2015

David S. Bieri

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA); Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 4, 2015

Abstract

By raising money from a large number of people via the internet, crowdfunding offers the promise of a “democratization of finance”. Recently, the crowdfunding of large-scale urban projects appears to have gained traction as a handful of high-profile real estate and infrastructure projects are making headlines around the globe for relying on distributed-network online financing. Instead of their purported promise, this paper argues that large-scale efforts to crowdfund the urban fabric carry all the hallmarks of what Jane Jacobs termed “cataclysmic money”. As such, crowdfunding the city might simply represent the next phase of entrepreneurialism in the financial transformation of urban governance. The main thrust of the argument developed in this paper suggests that it is precisely because of such financialising potential – and the relational importance of money and finance in an urbanised society more generally – that crowd financing might undermine, rather than fortify, the “right to the city” in the sense of Lefebvre. Indeed, the detailed workings of the modern monetary-financial system – from the technical complexity of financial engineering to the institutional architecture of money and the political economy of its regulatory governance – are still insufficiently recognised in much of the public discourse on the social consequences of finance.

Keywords: Urban real estate, financial regulation, crowdfunding, monetary-financial system, financialisation

JEL Classification: R51, G18, G28, E42

Suggested Citation

Bieri, David S., Crowdfunding the City: The End of 'Cataclysmic Money'? (December 4, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2684923 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2684923

David S. Bieri (Contact Author)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) ( email )

United States

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University - Department of Economics ( email )

3021 Pamplin Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

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