Licensed larceny

Infrastructure, financial extraction and the global South

By Nicholas Hildyard

Licensed larceny


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9427-3
  • Pages: 144
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £11.99
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: Economic Geography, Economics, Political economy, Economics, Finance, Business & Management, Economic geography, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic Conditions, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, Economics, finance, business & management / Political economy, Economics, finance, business & management / General
  • Series: Manchester Capitalism


Inequality is not just a problem of poverty and the poor; it is as much a problem of wealth and the wealthy. The provision of public services is one area which is increasingly being reconfigured to extract wealth upward to the 1%, notably through so-called Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). The push for PPPs is not about building infrastructure for the benefit of society but about constructing new subsidies that benefit the already wealthy. In other words, it is less about financing development than developing finance.

Understanding and exposing these processes is essential if inequality is to be challenged. But equally important is the need for critical reflection on how the wealthy are getting away with it. What does the wealth gap suggest about the need for new forms of organising by those who would resist elite power?


'Licensed Larceny is an extraordinary accomplishment. With stunning clarity, Hildyard reveals just how deeply financial power has penetrated our everyday lives - with devastating consequences. This is a tour de force political economy of financialization, and a remarkably accessible introduction to the sordid world of finance - for students, scholars, and activists alike.'
Jason W. Moore, Associate Professor at Binghamton University and author of Capitalism in the Web of Life

'Licensed Larceny is only about a hundred pages - really more a monograph than a book - but despite Hildyard's economy of prose the book packs more information than many books three times that length.'
Kevin Carson , Center for a Stateless Society

'Hildyard provides an impressive first step into the neglected area of infrastructural finance. Licensed Larceny is highly recommended for anyone, inside or outside universities, with an interest in mega-projects, infrastructure and industrial corridors.'
Alexander Dunlap, Interface: a journal for and about social movements Book reviews Volume 9 (1)


1 Mise-en-scène: the injustices of wealth
2 A study in financial extraction: Lesotho's national referral hospital
3 Infrastructure as financial extraction
4 Extraction in motion - infrastructure-as-asset-class
5 Infrastructure corridors, frontier finance and the vulnerabilities
6 Reflections for activism


Nicholas Hildyard works with the research and solidarity group, The Corner House, UK

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