Nicholas Hildyard
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Extraction in motion
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For investors, ‘infrastructure’ is now an ‘asset class’, the boundaries of which are limited only by the ability of finance to build new contracted income streams that extract wealth from funding, constructing and operating infrastructure facilities. What started off with investments in so-called economic infrastructure (utilities, roads, ports, airports) now include investments in resource/commodity infrastructure (oil and gas facilities, mining, forests), social infrastructure (hospitals, public housing, schools, prisons, law courts, military bases), information infrastructure (big data harvesting) and, still in its infancy, natural infrastructure (payments for so-called environmental services). This Chapter looks at the many new investment vehicles – from private equity infrastructure funds to venture capital funds – that are being used to profit from infrastructure, and attempts to quantify the amount of money now being extracted. The trajectory is not only towards increased inequality: it is also profoundly undemocratic, elitist and unstable. Undemocratic because a handful of fund managers now increasingly determine what gets financed and what does not. Elitist because the facilities that would most benefit the poor do not get built. And unstable because infrastructure-as-asset class is a bubble that is set to burst.

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Licensed larceny

Infrastructure, financial extraction and the global South


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