Financialization in Coffee Producer cooperatives: banks, futures, creditworthiness and gender

Authors: Tad Mutersbaugh*, University of Kentucky
Topics: Social Geography, Economic Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Cooperatives, gender, financialization, banking, credit, Mexico-Oaxaca
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Contemporary cooperatives literatures document many cases in which banking operations come to dominate other forms of commodity production. This presentation compares across several instances of coffee producer unionism, situates these in a broader cooperatives literature, and examines three aspects of consequence to membership. First, a relatively high degree of financialization brings a degree of stability to producer unions. A great difficulty in producer unions, often located in a relatively disadvantaged location within commodity chains, has been the problem of fluctuating interest rates and high credit costs, both economic and political. Insofar as assets become financialized, producer union manager are better able to manage interest rates and take advantage of futures contracts and exchange rate fluctuations. Second, financialization may transform producers into shareholders with varying forms of status as organized sellers versus organizational members. This may lead to a high degree of confusion with respect to rights and informational aspects, as well as a difficulty in making transparent a member relations to organizational assets, both in terms of shares and fixed capital. Third, the elaboration of multi-tier banking and the elaboration of loan, death benefit and other union financial products can engender new splits based on notions of creditworthiness. Members may become divided based upon their ability to take and repay loans, and management may also view members as better or worse depending upon their creditworthiness. In our research, this split has gender implications as well, since women coffee farmers possess, on average, fewer acres and are more risk adverse.

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