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Leeds University Business School is to head up a €10m EC project designed to make finance better serve society, the economy and the environment. The project was formulated in the wake of the 2008/9 banking crisis and will begin by looking at how financial systems work in 15 countries, mainly in Europe.

The project will bring together a network of economists, social scientists and environmental researchers across 15 universities, says Malcolm Sawyer, professor of economics at Leeds, who is leading the project. It will investigate the financialisation of society - the increasing dominance of the financial system over other parts of the economy. “We wanted a broad-ranging outlook on the role of finance, not on just GDP growth,” says Prof Sawyer.

This means that the research will look at the performance of economies using factors such as the quantity and quality of employment, social well-being and environmental sustainability. It will investigate how “the relationship with society could be better designed”.

The European Commission has funded the five-year project, called Financialisation, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development (Fessud), to the tune of €8m with a further €2m funding coming from the constituent universities. The first papers from the research are expected to be made public within a year, followed by policy documents and journals articles.

The other institutions involved include the University of Sienna in Italy, the School of Oriental and African Studies in the UK, the Berlin School of Economics and Law in Germany and the University of Lund in Sweden.


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