Manuel B. Aalbers's research while affiliated with KU Leuven and other places

Publications (130)

Article
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Shareholder value orientation has commonly been considered a hallmark of corporate financialisation. Today, firms increasingly share their profits with shareholders in the form of cash dividends and share buybacks. Yet how the shareholder payouts are distributed by firms from various sectors, sizes and countries remain unexplored. To complement exi...
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In “The long shadow of the state: financializing the Chinese city” Fulong Wu reflects on the role of the state in financialization processes. The language of symbiosis, with key concepts such as mutualism, parasitism and commensalism, but also cleaning symbiosis, metabiosis, co-evolution, mutation and mimicry could help us to conceptualize state/fi...
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In this paper, we review the burgeoning literature on the study of corporate financialization, distinguishing three strands of empirical, quantitative studies: (1) national-level and macro-comparative analysis, (2) sector- and firm-level analysis, and (3) econometric studies. We argue that corporations should be studied in their spatial organizatio...
Chapter
Die Wohnungsfrage ist zurück - und mit ihr eine neue Protestwelle, die in vielen sozial- und raumwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen das Interesse am Thema Wohnraumversorgung nachhaltig verstärkt. Mit einem Fokus auf das deutsche Wohnungssystem sind in diesem Reader sowohl klassische Texte als auch systematisierende Überblicksartikel der kritischen Wohn...
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In this article, we employ a Veblenian framework to analyze three dimensions of corporate financialization: the expansion of the balance sheet, the rising importance of intangible assets and the growing levels of financial payouts. Our focus is the pharmaceutical sector, which is strongly dominated by a handful of large corporations known as Big Ph...
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The private rental sector (PRS) is making a surprising comeback. A central argument in our paper is that we see the rise of PRS and the associated stagnation of homeownership as springing from the contradictions inherent to financialized homeowner societies. Rather than a feature of either mature or late homeowner societies, contradictions of the p...
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Belgium is a typical homeowner society where homeownership is not only the largest but also the ‘normalized’ form of tenure. The origins of the Belgian homeownership ideology go back to the early days of industrialization but the discourses surrounding the ideology are reproduced in the 21st century. Our investigation of the largest region of Belgi...
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The emerging literature on the globalization of real estate has addressed how internationally circulating capital has increasingly found its ways into housing markets of the “Global South”. With relatively underdeveloped financial and real estate markets, these countries have discursively and materially been rebranded as emerging markets, that is,...
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The financialization of housing in the Global South (GS) and peripheries of the Global North (GN) develops in different ways than in the GN because the mechanisms underlying and pushing financialization are fundamentally different. We argue that subordinated financialization in the GS is the contemporary form of uneven and combined development, sha...
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This report discusses the financialization of urban governance and the built environment as an explicit state strategy, focusing on municipal finance and the use of financial products by the local state and (semi-)public sector. A number of lessons can be drawn regarding the temporality and spatiality of financializing ‘the urban’. Firstly, the fin...
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A economia política do pós-guerra não tem, de um modo geral, atribuído um papel importante ao tema da “habitação”. A habitação enquanto política tem sido um exclusivo da análise das políticas sociais e do domínio crescente dos estudos da habitação. A habitação enquanto mercado tem estado confinada à economia ortodoxa. Este artigo insiste no facto d...
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This article studies the development of Warsaw's Służewiec neighbourhood, Poland's largest business district, as a case of real estate financialization. We argue that the neighbourhood's chaotic ‘de‐contextualized’ growth was shaped by Poland's semi‐peripheral position in the global economy on the one hand—enabling a process of subordinate financia...
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This entry explains the rising popularity of the concept of financialization, despite it being considered a vague and chaotic concept. It also summarizes the wide‐ranging multidisciplinary literature on financialization and makes a distinction between seven dimensions, or elements, of financialization, upon which a new definition of financializatio...
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In the literature, it is argued that the Fordist regime of accumulation has gradually been replaced by a finance-driven regime. We argue that the contemporary regime in the UK could be best characterized as a finance- and real estate-driven regime. Like Fordism, the new regime is thought to fuel the economy by propping up consumption, but unlike th...
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Geographers have started studying residential (housing) and commercial real estate (offices, retail, leisure) at the intersection of financial and urban geographies to understand how the built environment – chunky and spatially fixed – has been turned into a (quasi-)financial asset – ‘unitized’ and liquid – through a range of regulatory and socio-t...
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‘The Changing State of Gentrification’ (2001) by Jason Hackworth and the late Neil Smith is one of the most influential papers ever published in TESG. By introducing three waves, or periods, of practices and patterns of gentrification, it changed the way we think about gentrification. This Introduction to the Forum discusses the three waves introdu...
Article
While population losses have accompanied urban development since the emergence of the first cities, it has only been quite recently that “shrinkage” has become a field of research in its own rights. Critical scholarly research stands in a somewhat difficult relation to this situation. On the one hand, there are numerous contributions calling for a...
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Has the post-war managerial approach to urban governance in the Netherlands and Flanders been replaced by more entrepreneurial and financialized forms? In this paper, we study the transformation of urban governance in the Low Countries through city case studies of Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium). We show how Dutch urban governance is...
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Mounting concerns exist that small private investors exacerbate the urban housing crisis, by purchasing dwellings to rent out – so-called “buy-to-let” purchases. By buying up property, they may drive up house prices and exclude regular house-seekers. In this paper, we show that buy-to-let purchases constitute an increasing share of all purchases on...
Article
Manuel B Aalbers and Anne Haila discuss their respective recent books, The Financialization of Housing: A Political Economy Approach (Aalbers, 2016) and Urban Land Rent: Singapore as a Property State (Haila, 2016). Their debate focuses on issues such as comparative research, a political economy approach to urban studies, and topics of interest such...
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en This article presents two cases of listed real estate companies that operate in the Ruhr metropolitan region of Germany. The first is Immeo Wohnen, a subsidiary of the French real estate investment trust (REIT) Foncière des Régions that was previously owned by a US hedge fund. The second is Vonovia, Germany's largest real estate company, origina...
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This article examines the effects of implementing the proposals of the European Commission to institute a Capital Market Union (CMU) on the diverse landscape of residential capitalism in Europe. The CMU will bypass existing national institutional blockades that left core countries of the Eurozone, namely Germany, France and Italy, largely untouched...
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Why does a social housing provider bet on interest rate fluctuations? This article presents a case study of the financialization of both housing and the state. Social housing in the Netherlands is provided by non-profit housing associations that have since 1989 been set apart from the state. Many associations started developing housing for profit,...
Article
Taxation in general and tax evasion in particular are inherently geographical in nature, but only a small number of geographers have focused on them. In this progress report I present geographers’ research on offshore financial centres alongside the work of researchers from other disciplines to present an overview of what we know about the geograph...
Article
There is a small but growing literature on the financialization of housing that demonstrates how housing is a central aspect of financialization. Despite the varied analyses of the financialization of housing and the importance of housing to financialization, the relations between housing and financialization remain under-researched and under-theor...
Article
The idea of asset-based welfare (ABW) has been widely discussed since the 1990s. This paper presents a policy developed in Brazil in the 1960s that could also be perceived as an ABW policy. The Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Serviço (FGTS) is a compulsory savings scheme, managed by the state and financed through monthly deposits made by employers on...
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This paper investigates the internationalization of the commercial real estate markets of France and Germany, markets typically ignored in comparative political economy. Although both markets are embedded in Continental European capitalism, their trajectories of internationalization are variegated. After exploring how processes of internationalizat...
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This paper departs from the observation that a systematic review of the available theories, concepts, and methods and techniques for researching lobbying is lacking. Lobbying is a relational geography of power. And although economic and political geographers study a range of practices that could be considered constitutive to lobbying, they have hit...
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While many European countries experienced a global housing boom in the early/mid-2000s, house prices and mortgage debt in Germany stagnated. Therefore, the German housing system is considered to be operating outside financialized capitalism. Despite Germany’s apparent stability, we argue that an alternative trajectory of financialization in the Ger...
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In this article we analyze the historical roots of neoliberal housing policies, mottos, and principles in Italy and Spain, two countries with a Mediterranean welfare regime, showing how they are embedded in the twentieth-century fascist–dictatorial regimes of Mussolini and Franco. To stimulate economic growth in a situation of autarchy, both regime...
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The managers of a growing wall of money are continuously searching for investment opportunities. The financialization literature describes how this mobile capital puts pressure on commodities, debt, public services and economic activities to transform into investable, tradable, financial products. Regarding real estate, these investigations show ho...
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There are two dominant discourses on finance: in the first, finance is the great enabler; in the second, finance is the great divider, the driver of social exclusion. What starts out as finance as an enabler can easily turn into finance as a divider. If someone’s mortgage loan application is accepted, they may see finance as the enabler of homeowne...
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The paper focuses on transnational wealth elites buying residential properties in New York and London as an investment rather than as a primary residence. The transnational wealth elite is a group of people that have their origin in one locality, but invest their wealth transnationally since they entertain transnational jobs, assets and social netw...
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In this introduction to a virtual special issue on land rent, we sketch out the history of land rent theory, encompassing classical political economy, Marx’s political economy, the marginalist turn and subsequent foundations for urban economics, and the Marxist consensus around rent theory during geography’s spatial turn. We then overview some of t...
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In the literature, one finds various explanations for the rise of financialized capitalism. In the different strands of financialization literature, housing either plays a minor role or is simply seen as one of the bearers of financialization. The relations between housing and financialization are under-researched and under-theorized. This article,...
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There is a long history in social science that connects urbanization to capitalism. This article discusses how the work of Manuel Castells and in particular David Harvey informs our understanding of the urbanization of financial crises in the United States and elsewhere. The concepts of capital switching and financialization are central to the argu...
Article
The financialization literature tries to make sense of how the world has been changing and continues to do so. There is real potential for financialization to conjoin real-world processes and practices that are conceptually treated as discrete entities. Financialization is an inherently spatial phenomenon that should be much more central to economi...
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This paper explores the relationships between local or national housing markets and recent historic transformations in global capitalism. It proposes a periodisation of developments in housing markets, policies and practices distinguishing between, first, the pre-modern period; second, the modern or Fordist period; third, the flexible neoliberal or...
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This paper scrutinises the effects that the financialisation of land has on the land use planning process. Although finance is increasingly penetrating not only real estate but also land planning and development, there are few in-depth case studies describing and analysing this process. Contemporary urban development is characterised by the cluster...
Article
This introduction traces the development of financial geography through 15 papers selected for the Virtual Issue and previously published in Transactions between 1976 and 20141. The birth of a distinctive literature on the geographies of money and finance can be traced back to the mid 1990s, although Transactions published a few earlier papers deal...
Article
The issue of “housing” has generally not been granted an important role in post-war political economy. Housing-as-policy has been the preserve of social policy analysis and of a growing field of housing studies; housing-as-market has been confined to mainstream economics. This paper insists that political-economic analysis can no longer remain rela...
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This short article is a reply to four commentaries that were written in response to our paper “Centering Housing in Political Economy”. Rather than discussing each of the commentaries separately, we have chosen to distil and discuss four themes that appear important both to the commentators and to us: theory and abstraction; land rent; mortgage sec...
Conference Paper
Refiguring and Centering Housing in Political Economy The issue of “housing” has not been granted an important role in post-war political economy. Housing as policy was relegated to social policy analysis and to a growing field of housing studies that have both shown little interest in the issues that political economists are usually interested in...
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In recent years responses to neoliberal urbanism and social injustice have been framed in terms of ‘the right to the city’, both by academics and social movements. This special issue presents case studies of housing struggles from around the globe that are framed within a right to the city perspective. In this introduction to the special issue we f...
Article
In the field of geography, “where you are” matters more than in most other fields. Yet, we are only beginning to write the geography of geographical knowledge production and consumption. The paper “Neither here nor there or always here and there?” (Wray et al., 2013) is an important building block in creating such a geography. It is important to re...
Article
Social scientists have started to discuss the causes and consequences of the financial and economic crisis of 2007–09, and have also started debating the role of neoliberalism in and after the crisis. More generally, the crisis is often seen as a crisis of neoliberalism — and indeed it is. Neil Smith has observed that neoliberalism ‘has run out of...
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In this essay I argue that the ideology of neoliberalism may have failed, but that neoliberal practice is alive and kicking. Most of the ‘solutions’ to the crisis are in the spirit of neoliberalism, rather than enraptured by neoliberal spirit. Yet, this neoliberal solution is not a solution; it is part of the problem in the sense that it is leading...
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Despite several European Union (EU) initiatives, there is only limited pan-European mortgage market regulation. The EU strategy can be characterised as one of parallel liberalisation and consolidation. This article highlights the key differences in regulation among European mortgage markets. Mortgage market integration has been limited despite fact...
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This article conceptualises redlining in terms of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It explains the origins of redlining in the United States as well as development of redlining, anti-redlining struggles, and redlining research in the United States. It also deals with the scarce evidence of redlining outside the United States. Finally, it outlines a rese...
Chapter
Manuel Aalbers argues that the actions of mortgage lenders can play an important role in understanding the trajectories of some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Western cities. Mortgage lenders use the notion of the neighbourhood as a means to reduce their risk or to extract profit, and as such can exercise destructive powers over the neighbo...
Conference Paper
Designing Securities and Calculating Credit Ratings The securitization of residential mortgage loans started a number of decades ago in the United States, but was nonetheless said to be at the origins of the global financial crisis of 2007-present. I will examine the importance of information and the argument that securitization per se was not the...
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This short paper discusses two issues related to the Occupy Wall Street movement. First, a local urban political geography is presented in which Liberty Plaza is not the accidental place of Occupy Wall Street but a deliberate one, not only because it is located between the towers of global capital, but also because it constitutes a so-called “priva...
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IntroductionDifferences and Similarities in European Mortgage MarketsEuropeanization and Globalization of Mortgage MarketsWhy Has Deterritorialization Been So Slow?The Future of European Mortgage MarketsNotesReferences
Article
The Amsterdam Red Light District is locally and internationally significant as one of the oldest venues for visible and legal urban prostitution. Internationally it is perceived as a free-for-all zone of entertainment, a kind of ‘theme park’ for adult fun. Locally the Red Light District is a controversial place that stirs debates on Dutch ‘progress...
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Amsterdam's red-light district is the paradigmatic case of window prostitution, but it is not a stable case: both the regulatory context of prostitution in the Netherlands and the socio-spatial dynamics of the district have changed throughout the years. This paper advances our understanding of ‘prostitution and the city’ in at least two ways. The f...
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  Although planned as the “City of Tomorrow”, the Bijlmer district in Amsterdam quickly became the quintessential symbol of urban decline. Today, even with half of the planned renewal of the Bijlmer completed, the alleged success of this urban revitalisation programme is questionable. Parts of the black middle class did not move out and some are ev...
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There is a strong case that mortgage-backed securities were at the root of the 2007 – 09 financial crisis. Even though geographers have convincingly demonstrated that loan origination is strongly locally rooted and that the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis clearly had spatially circumscribed effects, securitization is still generally perce...
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Utilizing research from the U.S., Italy, and the Netherlands, Place, Exclusion and Mortgage Markets presents an in depth examination of the practice of redlining and the broader implications of contemporary urban exclusion processes. Covers exclusion in mortgage markets in three different countries - the U.S., Italy, and the Netherlands. Presents a...
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This paper is a critical reply to an article by Stal and Zuberi, in which they compare two policies which deconcentrate poverty in the US and the Netherlands. By drawing lessons from a renewal program in the Netherlands, they suggest several ways to help break the ‘cycle of poverty’. We distinguish at least three fundamental flaws in their argument...
Article
Across Europe, area-based policies have been developed as a mode of urban governance to deal with the unfavourable situation in many urban neighbourhoods, particularly large post-Second World War developments. The philosophy behind these area-based policies is that integrated initiatives to deal with the physical, economic and social aspects of the...
Article
Heterodox economists as well as non-economist like economic sociologists and economic geographers have argued for years that the mainstream, neoclassical view of markets is wrong. This chapter will not review these theoretical debates, but will seek an alternative understanding of one crucial market: the mortgage market. Developments in this market...
Article
Hoewel de mondiale financiële crisis geografisch en institutioneel specifieke gevolgen had, wordt de financiële techniek die er aan de wieg van stond – namelijk het in effecten transformeren (of 'securitiseren') van hypotheken om deze vervolgens aan institutionele beleggers door te verkopen – in de economische handboeken beschreven als een universe...
Article
It has become common practice—and in particular, but not exclusively, in conservative media—to blame the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 for the U.S. subprime mortgage and foreclosure crisis that triggered the global financial crisis. It is argued that the CRA forced lenders to give mortgage loans to high-risk borrowers. This is nonsense f...
Article
Do globalization and Europeanization lead to the deterritorialization of European mortgage markets? Neither economic globalization nor EU policies have resulted in one European mortgage market. The various European mortgage markets are still quite different from one another in many respects. In most countries national lenders continue to dominate t...

Citations

... Re/insurers have also emerged as prominent proponents for (and investors) in a range of climate risk finance experiments. This can be seen in the roll-out of multilateral disaster risk pools and other insurance products in support of several sustainable development and humanitarian agendas (Grove 2012;, or through the extension of re/insurance instruments and models services to help non-insurance financial institutions like real estate asset managers to govern their physical climate risk exposure (Taylor and Aalbers 2022). Re/insurers curate and perform epistemologies of risk, build institutional capacities and tools to manage such risk, and profit from a wide array of risk finance and advisory services (Taylor & Weinkle 2020). ...
... In the literature, financialization is often seen as a process closely associated with neoliberalization: the rise of finance and the decline of the state. But Aalbers (2022) portrays different combinations in state-finance symbiosis, that is, finance and the state have co-evolved. Through the process of financialization, the state enables or facilitates the expansion of the private finance sector, but also internalizes financial logic into its own system (Whiteside, 2021;Wu, 2021). ...
... Recent years have led to varying definitions of and empirical approaches to corporate financialization (Karwowski, Shabani, and Stockhammer 2020;Klinge, Fernandez, and Aalbers 2021;Soener 2020). For the purpose of this paper, we define it as a multidimensional process whereby nonfinancial firms increasingly engage in financial operations-such as investing in financial securities, increasing leverage, or repurchasing their own shares and acquiring potential competitors-to enhance their performance and/or maximize shareholder value. ...
... 54 As a result of ownership restructuring processes, health companies end up listed in financial markets, are integrated within global financial corporations becoming part of a diversified portfolio of investments, acquire ownership stakes in other companies via open market operations, and take over other companies in closed transactions leveraged by private capital and intermediated by financial corporations (Lavinas and Gentil, 2018;Sestelo, 2018;Vural, 2017). There is extensive empirical literature describing how such processes reach for-and not-for-profit actors in both central and peripheral economies, including health insurers Abecassis and Coutinet, 2021;Bahia et al., 2016;Martins et al., 2021;Mulligan, 2016;Sestelo, 2017aSestelo, , 2018, hospitals and other care providers (Alles, 2018;Angeli and Maarse, 2012;Appelbaum and Batt, 2020;Horton, 2017;Lavinas and Gentil, 2018;Vural, 2017), and pharmaceutical companies Klinge et al., 2020;Lazonick et al., 2017;Montalban, 2011). 55 Although the intensity of these events varies greatly across countries and segments, together they determine a large part of current developments in the health sector. ...
... High house prices have benefited those in home ownership, while making it harder for newcomers and younger people to enter the "property ladder" (Forrest & Hirayama, 2018;Ronald & Kadi, 2018). Housing market access and affordability has in many cases been further complicated by rising investments by institutional investors and private individuals in the private rental market (Aalbers et al., 2021;Kadi et al., 2020), fuelling stock upgrading, rent gap closure and gentrification processes particularly in inner-city neighborhoods. Resultantly, urban housing markets have become more uneven spatially in terms of rent levels, prices and affordability (Hochstenbach & Arundel, 2020). ...
... For example, Bill Gates of Microsoft is now the largest private owner of farmland in the United States (Estes 2021). Private equity firms, like the Blackstone Group, are buying up housing as a commodity for profit, pushing up housing prices and raising rents, and making it difficult for young people to buy homes and low-income renters to stay in them (UNHRC 2017; Leijten and de Bel 2020;Aalbers, Rolnik, and Krijnen 2020). And the wealthy, from Gates to Koch, are involved in privatizing and potentially profiting from public goods such as K-12 education, with problematic results for students, teachers, and the educational system as a whole (Freeman 2021;Ravitch 2020). ...
... These considerations lead us to the question of how the coronavirus crisis has been managed in epidemiological and geographical terms [9]. Dozens of countries worldwide have been forced to stringent lockdown decisions, be they limited to cities, counties, regions, or even entire states. ...
... However, we also identify fractures in the dominant housing discourse and what seems to be a novel call for the engagement of public institutions in the realm of housing provision. In this sense, we contribute to research on the reception of and political reaction to the housing affordability crisis, further exploring topics of ambivalence, contradiction and incoherence in housing discourses, which have been the subject of previous studies (Fikse & Aalbers, 2021;Fuster et al., 2019;Lilius & Lapintie, 2020;McKee, 2011;Mikeszová & Lux, 2020;Smith, 2015;Saegert et al., 2009). Focusing on a country not (yet) affected by the ostensible harsh effects of the housing or mortgage crisis, such as high eviction rates (Garcia-Lamarca & Kaika, 2016;Stout, 2016) or problems resulting from foreign currency mortgages (Pósfai & Jelinek, 2019;Vigvari & Gagyi, 2018), brings a novel perspective. ...
... Buyers demand private properties for multiple reasons such as capital appreciation, the luxurious standard of living, status symbol etc. Addressing these research issues are critical in contributing more qualitative data on the affordability of private housing, both perceived and real, and the relative impacts on the demand for housing. It is relevant and useful to understand the perception and attitudes of Singaporeans towards the changes in private residential property prices and future demand (Xiao et al., 2016), (Wijburg et al., 2020). Moreover, the context of the research is that it is conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic duration and the perceptions could significantly differ from normal periods due to the greater uncertainty and economic dwindle that the country is currently facing. ...
... Scholars suggest manifold signs of commodification of housing (Rolnik, 2013) followed by housing financialization (Aalbers, 2017;Fields, 2015Fields, , 2017Waldron, 2018;Wijburg, 2020;Wijburg et al., 2018) in a neoliberal setting. One of those is the rapid transformation of housing into an investment asset in advanced economies and increasingly in the Global South (Aalbers, 2020;Fernandez & Aalbers, 2020;Kutz & Lenhardt, 2016). Moreover, housing is an important object of financialization (Aalbers, 2017), and since the beginning of the 2010s, rental housing financialization has become a leading framework for understanding major trends in modern rental housing markets (Wijburg, 2020). ...