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- PublicationAccès libreProperty Sector Financialization: The Case of Swiss Pension Funds (1992–2005)Financialization is a major trend in Western economies. This paper shows, on the one hand, how it changes the management criteria and, on the other hand, the limits to financialization in the property sector. Between 1992 and 2004, about 15% of Swiss pension funds' wealth was invested in property. As far as their investment policy is concerned, pension funds have two choices. First, they can directly own, and have management responsibility for, the properties in their portfolios. Alternatively, they can buy shares in mainly Zurich-based investment vehicles. In the first case, pension funds require staff with the relevant expertise along with the knowledge of property markets. Investments have a regional focus and are assessed internally by the funds. In the second case, pension funds are merely investors and investment appraisals and comparisons are made on the basis of market criteria such as yield, diversification in relation to risk and liquidity. In this case, property investments focus solely on the country's main urban areas.
- PublicationAccès libreThe Expansion of the Finance Industry and Its Impact on the Economy: A Territorial Approach Based on Swiss Pension FundsA new economic geography of finance is emerging, and the current "financialization" of contemporary economies has contributed greatly to the reshaping of the economic landscape. How can these changes be understood and interpreted, especially from a territorial point of view? There are two contradictory economic theories regarding the tangible effects of the rise of the finance industry. According to neoclassical financial theorists, the finance industry's success is based on its positive effects on the real economy through its capacity to allocate financial resources efficiently. An alternative approach, adopted here, posits that finance does not merely mirror the real economy and that the financial economy, far from being a simple instrument for the allocation of capital, has its own autonomy, its own logic of development and expansion. A series of complex, and sometimes contradictory, connections link financial markets and the real economy, and there are some tensions between them, calling into question the coherence of the regional and national economies that follow from them. Moreover, the territorial approach shows how the mobility/liquidity of capital and the changing dimensions of new regions and countries are central to the finance industry's functioning. This article builds an understanding of the financial system through the lens of pension funds and highlights the impact of such a system on the real economy and its geography.
- PublicationAccès libreThe Impact of Institutional Investors on Corporate Governance: A View of Swiss Pension Funds in a Changing Financial EnvironmentTheories on corporate governance have developed in line with the development of the financial markets and the increasing power of institutional investors. Indeed, the financial markets' power can be measured by the ability of shareholders, and of institutional investors in particular, to influence businesses and their managers. A number of reforms have been implemented in several countries, Switzerland included, in order to strengthen shareholders' powers. Making specific reference to Swiss case studies, this paper aims to create a better understanding of the role of institutional investors in corporate governance. Indeed, Switzerland is paradoxical in that it is generally considered Rhenish, with banks and families taking a leading role in controlling big business (David et al. 2004; Windolf & Nollert 2001), whilst developing a pension fund system which, since the mid-1980s, has attracted considerable funds and is still experiencing strong growth. How do these two approaches, traditionally at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as the subject's literature is concerned, reconcile themselves in the Swiss market?