Financial Literacy, Risk, and Value Theory

Authors: Dylan Simone*, University of Toronto
Topics: Geographic Theory, Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Financialization, Financial Literacy, Risk, Value, Debt
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Gallier B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the role of financial literacy qua household spending, saving, and borrowing habits in aiding the absorption
of existing financial risk and generating new spaces of financial profit. Increasingly scholars are arguing for new understandings of value and valuation, which require modifying or rejecting key pillars of the labour theory of value, such as the spheres of production and circulation, real/fictitious capitals, and productive/unproductive labour. Using the case study of Canada and its financial watchdog – the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada – this paper highlights how the displacement of financial risk onto individuals and households has ramped up post-crisis, replicating the techniques of existing programs of asset-based welfare, and utilizing the same financial ‘innovations’ which were at the heart of the crisis.

One key conjuncture driving this movement is what I call False Choice Inclusion (cf. Slater’s False Choice Urbanism) – a heuristic device that masks political questions as moral ones, for the purposes of overcoming barriers to capital accumulation. Performed through fabricating a false dichotomy between financial exclusion/inclusion, this heuristic aids in generating value through creating new household (debt) payment revenue streams which can be securitized and fashioned as new financial instruments for investment. Under financialized capitalism, and through financial literacy campaigns and their associated risk and responsibility paradigms, households have fulfilled their role in becoming the “shock absorber of last resort in the financial system” (IMF 2005), justifying the need to rethink financial value production in our current moment.

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