New publication in Socio-Economic Review

Natalia Besedovsky published an article in Socio-Economic Review (currently as „advance access“ paper). Using the case of Moody’s, a major credit rating agency, her article “Financialization as calculative practice (…)” traces a fundamental paradigm shift in rating practices since the late 1980s. These innovations were driven by new calculative models, new kinds of analysts (so-called ‘quants’), and a profit-oriented organizational culture at Moody’s, all shaped by an increasingly financialized context. By studying credit rating agencies’ historical and current methodological publications and interviewing rating analysts, Natalia shows that the rating innovations of the 1980s and 1990s entail an entirely different set of epistemological assumptions about the calculability and predictability of the future, representing a fundamental paradigm shift in calculating and defining credit risk. In this framework, risk is not a threat that must be minimized, but a neutral variable that can be calculated, managed and used to generate profits. This new culture of credit risk assessment enabled the emergence and exponential growth of structured finance markets, fueling a culture of high-risk investments. The article contributes to the literature on financialization by arguing that financialization occurs both at the level of organizational culture and calculative practices.

 

New article in Global Policy

Sebastian Botzem, together with Sigrid Quack (University Duisburg-Essen) and Solomon Zori (Rotterdam School of Management), published an article on the adoption of international accounting standards in Africa in the journal Global Policy.

Their article “International Accounting Standards in Africa: Selective Recursivity for the ‘Happy Few?” is part of the current issue´s special section on “Recursivity in Transnational Governance” edited by Olga Malets and Sigrid Quack. The article discusses the lack of participation of African stakeholders in the standard-setting process as well as the conceptual mismatch between the standard-setter’s objectives on the one hand and the socio-economic, cultural and political conditions in many African countries.

 

Presentations at CBS

In mid-December, Sebastian Botzem and Sebastian Möller will participate in an international workshop on “Social Networks in Financial Production and Regulation” organized by Adam Leaver and Len Seabrooke and hosted by the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). This event will be a  follow-up of last year´s “Networks in Finance Workshop” at Manchester Business School. Sebastian Botzem will present latest findes from his research on the reconfiguration of global financial elites. His presentation “Elite Networks in Global Finance – Characteristics of the Financial Elite” is schedulded for Wednesday, 13 December, 2-3.30pm. On Thursday (10.45-12.15), Sebastian Möller will talk about “Debt Management & Creative Finance in City Hall: Modes and Networks of Intermediation Between Global Finance and Local Governments”.

Blop post on violence of debt

Our colleague Marcus Wolf has contributed to the new blog of the German Association of Political Science (DVPW) working group on orders of violence (Gewaltordnungen). His blog post “Die symbolische Gewalt der Schulden” raises the question whether and under which circumstances debt relations can be interpreted as manifestations of symbolic violence. Marcus argues that in a historical perspective, the morality of debt has often led to forms of direct or indirect violence against debtors, for instance in the case of debtor´s prisons. Nowadys, under the regime of debt-driven consumption, the symbolic violence of debt is much more inscribed in a new governmentality of financialization and is expressed in new attributions of responsibilities and in hidden power relations.

DVPW conference in Bremen

This week, the International Relations section of the German Association for Political Science (DVPW) will gather for its open conference at the University of Bremen. From Wednesday to Friday, there will be lots of panels covering a broad variety of IR issues including International Political Economy and global finance. Members of our research group are participating in the conference. On Wednesday afternoon, Sebastian Botzem will present a paper on elite organization in global finance (3.15-4.45pm, Room SFG1040). On Friday morning, he will chair a panel on global finance in which Marcus Wolf and Sebastian Möller will jointly dicsuss four papers on financial governance (11.15-12.45, Room, SFG1030). More information on the confernce can be found here.

Presentation @EISA 2017

This week, Sebastian Botzem will present his ongoing research on the reconfiguration of the global financial elite at the 11th Pan-European Conference on International Relations in Barcelona, organized by the European International Studies Association (EISA). His presentation is titled “New kids on the block: The rise of private non-profit organizations in cross-border financial governance”. It is schedulded for Friday, 15 September, 4:45pm (room 40,008) and will be part of a panel on continuity and change in financial regulation chaired by Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn.

Seminar in Brussels

On September 7th, Sebastian Möller will be guest speaker at an EUFINGEO seminar on “The Financialization of the Local State” at COSMOPOLIS, the Centre for Urban Research at Vrije Universiteit Brussels. He will be presenting conceptual insights from his doctoral research on the transformation of local authority debt management and the use of interest rate derivatives. Moreover, Laura Deruytter and Reijer Hendrikse from COSMOPOLIS will contribute to the discussion on the financialization of state policies and institutions.

Marcus Wolf presenting in Athens & Berlin

Marcus Wolf will present his findings on the ascent of financial literacy education as a political project at two conferences. At the European Sociological Association (ESA) conference in Athens “(Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities” he will present a view on the changin narratives around financial education before and after the financial crisis.

At the Berlin conference of the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE) he will present on the role of (behavioural) economists in the making of financial education.

Follow the Fees: Interview

The University of Innsbruck interviewed Leonhard Dobusch who has co-authored an article on the financialization of the European real estate sector with Sebastian Botzem. The article “Financialization as strategy: Accounting for inter-organizational value creation in the European real estate industry” will be published soon in “Accounting, Organizations and Society” and is already available online. In the brief interview (in German language), Leonhard presents core findings of the study that traces the stream of fees and the role of intermediaries in financialized real estate. The authors argue for a re-regulation of financial markets based on the issue of fees. The interview can be found here.

Presentation @SASE in Lyon

This Friday (30 June), Sebastian Botzem and Natialia Besedovsky will present a paper on “The Rise of Knowledge Intermediating Organizations in Global Financial Regulation” at the SASE conference in Lyon. In this paper, the authors apply a social network analysis approah to the study of changes within the global financial elite within and after the latest financial crisis. It summarizes some of the empirical findings and conceptional debates surround their common research project on the global financial elite. Moreover, Sebastian will be the discussant at Thursday´s panel on “Regulation and Governance in Emerging Economies”. This year´s conference theme is “What´s Next? Disruptive/Collaborative Economy or Business as Usual?”. The Society for the Advamcement of Socio-Economics (SASE) brings together scholars from sociology, political economy, management, political science and other fields interested in socio-economic dynamics.

Blog post on UK LOBO loans

Sebastian Möller has written a short report on the spread of so-called LOBO (ledender option – borrower option) loans among British local authorities for SPERI comment, the blog of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI). In his contribution, “Financializing town halls: Local councils, LOBO loans and the derivatives markets”, Sebastian briefly introduces this new type of market debt that became quite popular among UK city treasurers prior to the crisis. He describes how a complex network of different public and private actors including new intermediaries, such as treasury management advisors and brokers, facilitated the spread of LOBO loans. Contrary to experiences made by many continental local governements, in the British case the derivative character of this new financial instrumentwas much more hidden, since LOBOs constitute a form of embedded derivatives. In his PhD research project, Sebastian explores the financialization of municipal debt management across Europe.

 

New article on financialization of the real estate sector

Sebastian Botzem and Leonhard Dobusch have published a new article on the financialization of the European real estate sector in Accounting, Organizations and Society (AOS). The article “Financialization as strategy: Accounting for inter-organizational value creation in the European real estate industry” is now online available.

Abstract: Financialization – the increasing relevance of financial markets, financial actors and financial logics – and the related rise of originate-to-distribute-cycles in the mortgage industry have been considered key explanations for the emergence of financial crises. Analyzing a case study in the European real estate industry, we show how actors strategically manage inter-organizational relations and take advantage of rising asset prices, through refinancing on the basis of loan-to-value even before the originate-to-distribute-cycle of the mortgage industry unfolds. Valuation and accounting are core practices of financialized business models that evolve around management fees, which serve as value carriers and bring potential future profits into the present. Auditing also plays a role as it legitimizes these business activities and facilitates jurisdictional arbitrage. We contribute to the accounting literature by explaining how the strategic configuration of a valuation-accounting nexus leads to organizational short-termism and rewards unsustainable business activities in the real estate industry.

Eve Chiapello in Bremen

In July, the University of Bremen will host Prof. Eve Chiapello  for two events. Chiapello is a renowned sociologist and currently research director at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Her research focuses on the transformation of capitalism through management tools, valuation, and accounting. In 1999, she published Le nouvel Ésprit du Capitalisme (English: The New Spirit of Capitalism) together with Luc Boltanski, a work systematically analyzing managerial literature from the 1960s and 1990s to detect a shift in the ethos of capitalist society. This book has become something like a moden classic in sociology. More recently, Chiapello´s work has turned to the manifold dynamics of financialization. In a joint research project with scholars at the University of Hamburg, Chiapello, for instance, explores the “financialization of valuation and public policies”.

Source: EHESSIn Bremen, she will give a talk on “The Financialization of Public Policies” within the BIGSSS lectures series (5 July). Moreover, she will be guest at a “Politics & Finance Seminar” of our research group on “Devices, Conventions and the Study of Neoliberalism” (6 July). In this seminar, we will discuss her recent article “Critical accounting research and neoliberalism”. As a kick-off for our discussion, Martin Nonhoff (InIIS) will comment the paper. If you want to participate in the seminar, please contact s.moeller[at]uni-bremen.de.

 

Overview of the two events

  • 05.07.2017: Eve Chiapello (EHESS Paris): “The Financialization of Public Policies” (BIGSSS Lecture), 16.15-17.45, Room 7.2210 (InIIS)
  • 06.07.2017: Eve Chiapello (EHESS Paris), Workshop: “Devices, Conventions, and the Study of Neoliberalism”, 10-12h, Room 7.2210 (InIIS)

 

New blog post on networks

Sebastian Möller has written a new blog post for “Manchester Capitalism: A View From The North”. In his contribution “Mapping & Understanding the Networked Character of Finance”, he summarizes the “Networks in Finance Workshop” held last December in Manchester. This workshop was organized by Adam Leaver and Daniel Tischer from the Manchester Business School. On this occasion, scholars from different fields of study have discussed the roles of networks in different areas of finance and the value of network analysis for understanding ongoing processes and dynamics. At this workshop, also Sebastian Botzem presented a paper co-authored by Natalia Besedovsky on the reconfiguration of the global financial elite. The blog post provides a brief overview of the different projects presented in Manchester and sketches out some routes for further research.

Event: Process Tracing in IPE

The “Politics & Finance” research group is hosting a reading session on process tracing in IPE (and byond) on 01 June (10-12) at InIIS. We will read and discuss selected contributions from a recent special issue of New Political Economy. The program for the event can be found here. If you wish to participate, please send an email to smoeller[at]uni-bremen.de.

CfP: Early Career Workshop on Finance @Warwick

In September, the Warwick Critical Finance Group will be hosting the sequel of last year´s Young Scholars Workshop on interdisciplinary finance studies. The workshop is titled “Taking the next step: new frontiers in the interdisciplinary study of finance” and will take place on 25 & 26 September 2017 at the University of Warwick (UK). The Call for Papers can be found here. Paper proposals are due on 1 June. The event will provide an excellent opportunity to continue our discussions on the ongoing and manifold daynamic changes of finance, it´s transformative influence on various realms of society, and further avenues for the intersdisciplinary agenda of finance research. Moreover, the workshop is targeted at further strengthening networks and collaborations of early career researchers.

Presentation at AAG2017

On 8 April, Sebastian Möller will be presenting his research on municipal derivative deals across Europe at this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in Boston. His presentation is titled “The financialization of municipal debt management: How did interest rate derivatives enter city hall” and will open a row of three panels on “Financialization as a State Project”, organized by Caroline Sage Ponder and Mikael Omstedt (both from the University of British Columbia). Manuel Aalbers (KU Leuven) will discuss the papers presented in the first two sessions. In Boston, there will be a range of panels and other events on the emerging field of financial geography, partly featured by the newly founded “Global Network on Financial Geography” (FinGeo). Sebastian receives a travel grant from the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD that allows him to take part in this excellent conference.

              

CfP Finance & Society 2017

In November 2017, the City University London will be hosting the second “Intersections of Finance and Society” conference organized by the “Finance and Society” Journal, the Finance and Socitey Network at the University of Sydney, and the City Political Economy Research Centre (CITYPERC). The Call for papers for this conference has been announced now. Last year´s inaugural conference was a mayor success and brought together hundreds of finance scholars from different disciplines and from all over the world. Abstracts for this year can be submitted until 01 August. Melinda Cooper and Joseph Vogel already have been confirmed as keynote speekers for this event.

Teaching in summer term 2017

This summer term, members of our research group will be teaching in the Bachelor and Master courses in Political Science at the University of Bremen. Sebastian Botzem offers a seminar on “Challenges of Global Financial Regulation” (MA, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Room: GW1-HS H1010). Together with Martin Nonhoff, he will also teach a seminar on “Political-Economic Thought in the 20th Century: Introduction to the work of Keynes, Hayek, Eucken and Polanyi” (BA, Wednesdays 4-6pm, Room: IW3 0200). Moreover, Marcus Wolf will teach the seminar “Oil and International Politcs in the 20th Century” together with Roy Karadag (BA, Wednesdays, 2-4pm, Room: FVG M2010). All courses will be in German languange. Please register via Stud.IP.

CfP: Conference on International Relations in Bremen

In early October 2017, the section “International Relations” of the German Association of Political Science (DVPW) is holding an open conference at the University of Bremen. The conference will be organized by colleagues from the Institute of Intercultural and International Sudies (InIIS). Abstracts can be submitted until 31 March 2017. The call for papers and further information can be found here.

There is also a distinct call for papers for a panel at this conference organized by the DVPW working group on International Political Economy. The panel will focus on politics of financial solidarity within the European Union. This call can be found here. Abstracts for this panel are due on 20 March.

Sebastian Botzem presents research on financial elites

In December, Sebastian Botzem presented preliminary findings of the Global Financial Elites project at the “Networks in Finance” Workshop at the University of Manchester, organized by Adam Leaver and Daniel Tischer. The paper, co-authored by Natalia Besedovsky, investigates the dynamic development of the global financial elite network drawing on the GloFIELD database which includes the big players of finance and their connections to other organisations via personal links.20161208_095144Comparing the network structure over 25 years, Sebastian and Natalia find that organizational relations become more dense over time and that the global network changes notably after the financial crisis. In particular, regulators, international organisations, and the industry itself lose connectivity while private non-profit organisations like think tanks and professional associations move towards the core. In the 2013 network, for instance, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is the most centrally located organization . Interpreting networks as infrastructure of soft power relations and knowledge flows, these changes might indicate an increasing demand of sense-making, persuasion, and a need for reassurance after the crisis. Network structures also signal a renewal of the dominant self-regulatory pattern in financial governance. The rise of new actors in the financial elite network certainly merits further research.

20161208_100546The workshop brought together both renowned and emerging scholars from different disciplines interested in network structures and dynamics within global finance. Participants discussed the usefulness of network analysis in understanding financialization and structural changes in different financial sectors. A consensus emerged that social network analysis helps us a great deal in this respect since it enables the mapping of actor constellations over time and the connectedness of finance across sectors and borders. The workshop, however, also showed that network analysis does not replace the theorization of social relations and dynamic change in finance and ideally needs to triangulated with other methods.

P&F Seminar on Investment Clubs in January

In January, the research group “Transnational Political Ordering in Global Finance” continues its “Politics & Finance Seminar Series” ith a discussion on investment clubs as homosocial groups. Lydia Welbers, doctoral researcher at the Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy (SOCIUM) at the University of Bremen, presents tentative findings and thought on her ongoing doctoral thesis in a project on decision-making practices of small investors.

17.01.17: Lydia Welbers (SOCIUM, University of Bremen): “Investment clubs
as homosocial groups. Which is the value of this category of analysis?”
InIIS, Room 7.2020, 12.15-13.45

Abstract of Lydia´s talk: Investment clubs (as associations of small investors, which pool their money) have to decide together, how to invest their money on the financial market. On the group level, members of the group look quite similar. Therefore these groups can be divided in male and female associations. The talk focusses on the added value by describing investment clubs as homosocial groups by mentioning differences and similarities between these groups and their decision making processes.

After the presentation, there will be plenty of time to ask questions and discuss various aspects of the topic. If you wish to attend the seminar, please write an email to smoeller[at]uni-bremen.de.

P&F Seminar on Basel Accords in December

On December the 15th, Prof. Lucia Quaglia (University of York) will be guest in our “Politics & Finance Seminar Series” at InIIS. She will talk about the political economy of domestic compliance with international financial standards in the case of Basel Accords in banking regulation. Lucia is one of the most renowed experts on European financial governance and works in the fields of International & Comparative Political Economy. During her current fellowship at Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg she explores transatlantic economic coordination together with Prof. Susanne K. Schmidt from InIIS.

15.12.16: Lucia Quaglia (University of York), “The politics of domestic compliance with the Basel Accords in Banking”, InIIS, Room 7.2210, 12.15 – 13.45

Abstract of the talk: Why do jurisdictions comply (or not) with international financial standards? This research examines the mixed record of compliance of the two main jurisdictions worldwide – the United States and the European Union – with the most well-known financial standards, the Basel Accords. It draws attention to the ‘misfit’ between the international standard-setting process and the process of domestic compliance. In the uploading stage, elected officials delegate international standard-setting to domestic regulators and large internationally-active financial institutions successfully mobilise. In the downloading stage, domestic interest groups team up with elected officials in order to resist compliance with international standards that have negative distributional implications for domestic constituencies.

Presentations in the UK

Within the next few weeks, members of the research group “Transnational Political Ordering in Global Finance” will present findings of their ongoing research at different occasions in the United Kingdom. Sebastian Botzem will participate in a workshop on “Networks in Finance” organized by Adam Leaver and Daniel Tischer at Alliance Manchester Business Salliance-mbs_logochool (AMBS). There, he will present a paper by Natalia Besedovsky and  him on “Knowledge intermediation and the rise of boundary-spanning organizations in finance”.

Already in November, Sebastian Möller will give a talk on his research about the financialization of municipal debt management at an AMBS PhD Seminar. Sebastian is currently visiting scholar at AMBS´s “People, Management and Organisation” (PMO) division. In early December, he will also present tentative findings of his UK field work on LOBO loans at a workshop at Newcastle´s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) organized by Andy Pike and Peter O´Brien. Finally, Sebastian will give a seminar at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) towards the end of his research stay in the UK.

  • 24/11/2016 (1pm, AMBS East, B2): Sebastian Möller – When finance knocks at city hall´s door: Derivatives and municipal debt management.
    AMBS PhD Seminar, University of Manchester (UoM)
  • 02/12/2016 (1.15pm, CURDS): Sebastian Möller – Global finance meets local politics: Derivatives and municipal debt management. Financialisation and local government workshop, University of Newcastle
  • 08/12/2016 (9am, Chancellors at UoM): Natalia Besedovsky & Sebastian Botzem – Changing Patterns in Global Finance: Knowledge intermediation and the rise of boundary-spanning organizations in finance. Networks in Finance Workshop, UoM
  • 14/12/2016 (4pm, ICOSS Boardroom): Sebastian Möller – When global finance knocks at city hall’s door: Derivatives and municipal debt management.
    SPERI Seminar, University of Sheffield

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Blog post for soziopolis.de

Sebastian Möller and Marcus Wolf have written a report on the Young Scholars Workshop on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Finance for the German social science blog soziopolis. The workshop was organized by our research group in September at the University of Bremen with kind support by the Center for Transnational Studies (ZenTra) and the Foundation of the University of Bremen. In their contribution, Marcus and Sebastian summarize the keynote talks by Eleni Tsingou, Lucia Quaglia, and Phil Mader and discuss strenghts and downsides of the interdisciplinary study of financial market developments. There is also a blog post in English language on socializing finance. Previously, Marcus and Sebastian already have published blog posts on soziopolis on the Debt Trails Workshop in Budapest and the symposium on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Institute for Intercultural & International Studies.

Möller, Sebastian & Wolf, Marcus (2016): Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf das Finanzwesen (Report on the Young Scholars Workshop). Soziopolis, 10.11.2016.

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Lucia Quaglia guest at joint InIIS BIGSSS colloquium

On Monday, 24 October 2016, Prof. Lucia Quaglia will be guest at the joint colloquim of the Institute of Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) & the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS). Lucia is senior lectur at the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of York and currently fellow at Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst. She is one of the most renowed experts on European financial governance and works in the fields of International & Comparative Political Economy. During her current fellowship, which is co-funded by BIGSSS and the University of Bremen, she explores transatlantic economic coordination together with Prof. Susanne K. Schmidt from InIIS. In the colloquium session, she will talk about post-crisis banking regulation at the interface between domestic and international governance. Her paper will be discussed by our colleague Marcus Wolf.

InIIS BIGSSS Colloquium, 24 October 2016, 4-6pm, Unicom 7.2210
Lucia Quaglia: Post-crisis banking regulation at the interface between domestic and international governance

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In December, Lucia will also be guest in our “Politics & Finance Seminar Series”. On this occasion, she will talk about domestic compliance with international financial standards in the case of the Basel Accords. This event will be held on 15 December.

Teaching in winter term 2016/17

In winter term 2016/17, Sebastian Botzem will teach the research seminar “Introduction to the Political Economy of Global Trade” (in German language, BA Political Science). This seminar will take place Wednesdays 10-12 at SpT C4180 (Sportturm). You can register for the course via Stud.IP.

Previous seminars of research group members at Bremen University:

  • Economic elites and the regulation of the world economy
    (Sebastian Botzem, summer term 2016)
  • The politics of debt in financialized capitalism
    (Sebastian Möller & Marcus Wolf, summer term 2016)
  • Social science perspectives on finance
    (Natalia Besedovsky, winter term 2015/16)
  • Politics & economy in the age of globalization
    (Sebastian Botzem, winter term 2015/16)
  • Political Economy of financial market regulation
    (Sebastian Botzem, summer term 2015)
  • International Political Economy of the financial crisis
    (Sebastian Möller & Marcus Wolf, summer term 2015)

Summary of #YSW16

Young Scholars Workshop: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Finance
21-23 September 2016, University of Bremen

In September, the research group “Transnational Political Ordering in Global Finance” led by Sebastian Botzem has hosted a Young Scholars Workshop on the interdisciplinary study of finance at the University of Bremen. This event brought together 30 emerging academics from different universities, countries, and disciplinary backgrounds (including Political Science, IPE, Economic Sociology, Economics & Business Studies, Human Geography, and Economic History). Besides providing a platform for establishing international contacts among young scholars, the main goals of the workshop were to better understand the complexities of global finance and to discuss merits and constraints of interdisciplinary approaches to studying finance. Given the increasing relevance of finance, in both politics and everyday life, and finance’s susceptibility to crises, a more encompassing understanding of its dynamics is urgently required. In this respect, the three days of intense paper sessions, inspiring lectures and a concluding round table certainly provided new insights and ideas for the individual projects of the workshop participants as well as for a broader common research agenda on finance. Read more here

Find the respective twitter feed here.
Find the workshop program here.

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Sebastian Möller guest at Manchester Business School

From October until mid-December, Sebastian Möller will be visiting researcher at the “People, Management and Organisations” department of the Alliance Manchester Business School (University of Manchester). During his research stay, Sebastian will be supervised by Julie Froud (Professor of Financial Innovation) and Adam Leaver (Professor in Financialization Analysis and Business). In Manchester, Sebastian will conduct fieldwork for his research project on municipal derivatives, exchange ideas with scholars and other PhD candidates at AMBS, and present tentative findings in a colloquium. Within his project, the LOBO loan engagement of the Manchester city council is a crucial case study. During his stay, Sebastian will conduct both expert interviews with financial professionals and public administrators as well as document and archival research. Sebastian was able to raise funding for his research stay from the BremenIDEA out program.

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