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States, Markets, and Sovereign Wealth Funds

GPS, Vol. 4 No. 3, (2008)

The rapid growth of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) in the
last few years has important theoretical implications for
scholarly debates concerning the political economy of global
finance. It signals a reassertion of state authority in global
finance, but in a manner that scholars did not anticipate in
debates that dominated this field of study during the 1990s.
Those earlier debates assumed that states mattered only
insofar as they could regulate global financial markets or
respond to their imperatives. But the growth of SWFs has
increasingly placed states in the position of becoming part of
the very structure of “capital mobility” from which they were
analytically distinguished in earlier analyses. This
phenomenon calls attention to the problematic nature of the
“states vs. market” dichotomy that drove earlier debates,
while at the same time highlighting the transformative
capacity of the state in the context of globalization as well as
the potential agency of powerful actors – both public and
private – in influencing the imperatives of “capital

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