My PhD research on the real estate/financial complex in Russia and Ukraine is driven by the recognition that the financial and the real estate sector are linked to each other in intricate ways, often mediated by government legislation, regulation and elite interests. This has been best illustrated by the subprime crisis and resulting global credit crunch. However, to this date the concrete connections between real estate (both residential and non-residential), finance and states still remain under-researched and under- theorized. What is more, the distinct modalities of this relationship and the resulting specificities of the real estate/financial complex across space have been paid relatively little attention to. This holds especially true for the financially ‘underdeveloped’ but fast growing transition economies. Here, rapid changes induced by the transition from a planned to a market economy have led to the emergence of an idiosyncratic relationship between real estate and the financial sector. The privatisation of residential housing, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, created abundant privately held housing wealth. The slow take off of the financial sector, on the other hand, led to a ‘property without markets’ condition where housing wealth remains illiquid and cannot easily be traded (Zavisca, 2012). This uneven development has led to spatially – on the local, regional, national level – specific patterns of the real estate/financial complex, which this research project aims to further examine.
In order to develop the conceptual tools to study the connection between finance and real estate this study brings together the political economy research on the relationship between finance and states (Moran, 1990; Helleiner, 1994; Davis, 2009; Engelen et al., 2011), a tradition of work that focuses on the interaction between real estate and local states (Logan and Molotch, 1987; Feagin and Parker 1990; Fainstein, 2011; Gotham, 2002) and the financialisation debate (Boyer, 2000; Epstein, 2005; Erturk et al., 2008; Krippner, 2011).
My research methodologies involve empirical research, such as elite interviews financial data collection and a comprehensive study of available news and policy reports.