The Financialization of Housing and Real Estate in Lebanon: An Exchange

01.-03.11.2017, Workshop, OI Beirut

Orient Institut Beirut

This workshop explores the relationships between processes of financialization and the housing and real estate sectors in Lebanon. It brings foreign and Lebanese academics and experts together in order to explore common themes and foster mutual learning through their knowledge of different contexts. The workshop will contribute to the formation of a research agenda that explores new forms of finance-based housing and financialized real estate development in a severely understudied region and provide clues about whether they create the same kind of volatilities that led to the global financial crisis, and which new kinds of urban economies, trajectories of urbanization, spatial inequalities, and geographies of financial markets and products they generate. 

What do we mean by the term “financialization”? Financialization entails the “increasing dominance of financial actors, markets, practices, measurements and narratives, at various scales, resulting in a structural transformation of economies, firms (including financial institutions), states and households” (Aalbers, 2017). This process can be situated in the shift towards finance- based growth that has been occurring ever since the slowing down of economic growth and stagnation of the real economy in the West (Aalbers, 2008). In finance-based growth, profit is made through financial channels, instead of through trade and commodity production (Epstein, 2005; Krippner, 2005). Finance grows not to benefit the economy, but to benefit financial market agents, including investors. Financial and non-financial firms alike are increasingly intertwined with financial markets, which become a place where money, securities and other purely financial products are traded. In this way, the risks of financial markets are spread all around the economy, as financial and non-financial economic activities are becoming financialized (Aalbers, 2008). 

The workshop focuses on two interrelated domains that are susceptible to processes of financialization, namely housing and real estate. In Lebanon, the growing housing loans market, the availability of large amounts of excess liquidity in the banks and the traditional dominance of the banking and real estate sectors create an environment conducive to financialization. At the same time, conservative banking policies and limited financial markets seem to check this trend. Different panels, keynotes and roundtables will explore these issues, starting on the evening of November 1 with a keynote address by Prof. Manuel Aalbers (Leuven University, Belgium). 

For more information, please contact Marieke Krijnen at