Tony Norfield’s ‘The City: London and the global power of finance’

The City, front cover of Verso bookTony’s The City: London and the Global Power of Finance, will be published by Verso Books on 12 April 2016. Below are some reviews that it has received so far and a full list of the contents. Details for ordering the book, which will be available both in hardback (price £20) and as an ebook, are available on the Verso website and on Amazon.

“Tony Norfield has provided a strikingly original take on the international financial system by placing it systematically within the world imperialist structure of power. He rejects the currently fashionable path of interpreting the ascent of finance by looking at how the leading financial sector agents, operating by way of banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and the like, manipulate the political-economic game to increase their own personal wealth, while downplaying any useful economic functions they might be fulfilling. He insists, on the contrary, that finance be understood as a form of power deriving from the economic-cum political capacity to compete at the highest levels of global capitalism, which simultaneously endows a limited group of countries and corporations disproportionate access to the world s resources and operates as the system’s indispensable nerve center. Norfield’s unusual clarity as both an analyst and expositor is reflected in his ability to lay out for his readers an easy-to-grasp introduction to how finance works today in the process of offering a detailed historically-rooted account of the multiple hierarchies and privileged relationships through which global economic domination is constructed and reproduced. The City is a tour de force, which will soon be recognized as a formidable challenge to conventional wisdom and an essential contribution in its own right.” – Robert Brenner

“This book does the seemingly impossible: rendering finance’s mysteries transparent to the average reader, and at the same time delivering a penetrating analysis of the global economic system that will enlighten even experts. Tony Norfield has written a truly exciting and important book.” – Paul Mattick Jr, author of Business as Usual

The City is a valuable addition to the critical analysis of the financialisation of our world. And Tony Norfield is an experienced and radical guide to London’s role in this process. This book should be required reading for both bankers and activists alike.” – Joris Luyendjik, author of Swimming with Sharks: My Journey into the World of the Bankers



Chapter 1: Britain, Finance and the World Economy
World economic and financial power
Britain’s invisible empire
Understanding finance and imperialism
Insights, conspiracies and policy contingencies
The ‘End of History’ revisited
History wakes up
‘New Deal’ and no deal
The system

Chapter 2: The Anglo-American System
British or American finance?
Anglo-American financial relationships in transition
Building beyond the Empire
New York versus London
The Anglo-American euromarket
British capitalism, finance and official policy
Eurobonds and London’s international role
Historical logic

Chapter 3: Finance and the Major Powers
Regime change
British imperial strategy and the pound
State policy on financial markets from 1979
Finance and the major powers
Gravity and the global system

Chapter 4: Power and Parasitism
Money-capitalists and financial institutions
Interest-bearing capital
Asset managers
Insurance companies
Pension funds
Bank credit creation
Financial securities and economic power
The flexible noose
Finance and the rule of capital
Financial parasitism
Global parasitism, investment, trade and finance
Who reaps the returns?

Chapter 5: The World Hierarchy
The premier league
Capitalism and the state
The state and finance
Monopoly and imperialism
Monopoly today
World projection of power

Chapter 6: Profit and Finance
Return on equity and leverage
Comparing profits
Financial assets and derivatives
Financial revenues, surplus value and securities
Trading revenues
The rate of profit and capital’s limits
Profits, financial and global developments
Moribund capitalism

Chapter 7: The Imperial Web
Currency, trade and seigniorage
‘Exorbitant privilege’
Running the world banking system: US dollar power
Financial services exports
Equity markets, financial power and control
Carving up the market
The daily grind

Chapter 8: Inside the Machine
Number crunching
The surplus from City dealing
Global capitalism’s financial broker
UK financial account: FDI, portfolio flows and bank funding
UK assets, liabilities and returns
The City’s global network, tax havens and global finance
Nice work, if you can get it

Chapter 9: Eternal Interests, Temporary Allies
‘Open for business’
Economics and domestic politics
Islamic finance and the City
China, BRICS and the Anglo-American system
Finance and the rule of capital

List of Tables
3.1 UK, Germany, France – patterns of trade, 1980 and 90 (% of total)
3.2 Financial market shares of major powers, 1980-2001 (% of total)
5.1 Corporate control by controlling company, 2007
6.1 UK monetary financial institutions’ financial balance sheet
7.1 Financial services export revenues, 2000-2013
7.2 Equity market capitalisation and turnover, 2013
8.1 UK current account balance and components, 1987-2014
8.2 External positions of banks, end-2014
8.3 Foreign exchange turnover, 1995-2013
8.4 OTC interest rate derivatives turnover, April 2013
8.5 UK financial account net annual flows, 1987-2014
8.6 Net external position of UK MFIs by location

List of Charts
5.1 The global pecking order, 2013-2014
6.1 Leverage ratios of major international banks, 2007–2011
6.2 Leverage ratios of major UK banks, 1960-2010
6.3 US corporate rate of profit, 1948-2013
6.4 US Federal Reserve financial support stays in place
8.1 Key components of the UK current account, 1987-2014
8.2 UK net foreign investment stock position, 1989-2014
8.3 Returns on UK foreign investment assets and liabilities, 1990-2014