This introductory chapter provides an overview of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). It begins with a discussion of how policymakers of all stripes, from democracies to autocracies, have all come to see SWFs as important buffers against global market forces that threaten domestic institutions and policies. It then details the rise of SWFs; the effort to build trust through the voluntary Generally Accepted Principles and Practices, known as the Santiago Principles, developed by the International Working Group of SWFs with the support of the International Monetary Fund; the institutional form and function of SWFs; and the new geography of finance. It argues that SWFs represent the high-water mark of financialization and the next installment of capitalist development following Clark's (2000) pension fund capitalism.
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