Nicholas Hildyard
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Infrastructure as financial extraction
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Finance views infrastructure very differently from ordinary people. Yield is the determinant of what is or is not an infrastructure asset. For finance, a road, hospital or oil pipeline is not ‘infrastructure’ unless it provides a stable, contracted cash flow for the long-term. This Chapter examines how infrastructure is being reworked to provide what finance seeks of it. One focus is the contractual arrangements – Minimum Revenue Guarantees, Take or Pay contracts and stabilisation clauses – that investors are putting in place through Public-Private Partnerships to ensure guaranteed high rates of profit. Such guarantees are a crock of gold, providing legally-enforceable liens on future public flows of money that are irrevocable for the length of the contract. Even though the state remains the major financier and operator of public services, the relatively small space that has now been opened up for private investors has enabled finance to construct a multi-billion-dollar extraction machine, with major ramifications for inequality.

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