Presentation at the conference:
Research, Innovation, Competitiveness and Regional Development
(Athens, Greece 21-22.06.2019)
‘Capital flows and labour surpluses in times of recession: A geographical approach to the antinomies between the EU core and periphery’
George SYKAS, PhD Candidate in Economic and Labor Geography Department of Geography, University of the Aegean
Konstantinos GOURZIS, PhD Candidate in Economic and Labor Geography Department of Geography, University of the Aegean
Stelios GIALIS, Assistant Professor in Economic and Labor Geography, Department of Geography, University of the Aegean
The proposed presentation focuses on the issue of the European Union crisis, offering an empirically grounded look of its character and intensity. More specifically, we inquire investment capital flows (in the form of gross fixed capital formations) vis-à-vis the flexibilization of labour markets, for four EU countries – Greece, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands –, and for an extended reference period (1995-2016). Our approach taps into the tradition of geographical Political Economy, utilizing the concept of capital switching, and its geographical manifestations, spatial fixes, while following the methodology of Kutz and Christophers. Our main goal is to theoretically clarify and empirically document the rechanneling of capital from the sphere of commodity production to the field of the built environment, and identify its link to Labouré surpluses fluctuations, especially amid economic crises. The analysis reveals, on the one hand, common trends among the Mediterranean countries in the form of a strong construction sector that lagged behind after the first recessive shocks, spilling negative externalities beyond its strict sectoral boundaries, and on the other, the antithesis between the northern countries, as the Netherlands exhibit stagnation, for example in housing investments, while Germany performs seemingly unaffected during the last 10 years.