Michael is a financial geographer with research interests in the geo-politics and geo-economics of capital market investments. His research straddles the frontiers of several disciplines including human geography, financial economics, management studies and public administration. In particular, his work focuses on the asset management industry, institutional investors, investment banking and sustainable finance.
Prior to his graduate studies, Michael worked for the private bank Pictet & Cie overseeing and developing their in-house mutual funds in emerging markets and thematic markets including Socially Responsible Investments (SRI). Michael holds a BSc in Management from HEC Lausanne, an MSc in Environment, Politics and Globalisation from King's College London, and a DPhil in Economic Geography from Oxford University. Using econometrics and close-dialogue, his doctoral thesis analysed the investment practices of public pension funds in the United-States. His thesis offers a set of empirically grounded regulatory and organisational requirements designed to address the chronic underfunding that afflicts public retirement systems.
Michael has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in financial geography, corporate environmental management and sustainable finance at Bristol University and the University of Oxford. He has published his work in leading peer-reviewed journals including Economic Geography, Sustainability, the Journal of Retirement, Territory, Politics, Governance and Geoforum. His research has also been featured in international media outlets including Financial News, European Pensions and the Magazine des Professions Financières et de l'Economie.
Michael is currently involved in an ERC funded project titled 'Cities in Global Financial Networks: Finance and Development in the 21st Century' (CityNet21—Grant No. 681337) led by Professor Dariusz Wójcik - visit www.citynet21.org. Working as part of a team of four researchers, he studies the co-evolution of places (cities and nation states) and financial institutions globally with a particular emphasis on asset owners, asset managers, investment banks. Core themes include sustainability, technological innovation, offshoring, governance, policy and regulation. Michael works with mixed methods including econometrics, social network analysis and close dialogue. He has conducted over 200 elite interviews with finance and business services executives, policy makers and regulators in Europe, the United States, and in the Asia-Pacific region. This CityNet21 project will culminate in the publication of the world's first Atlas of Finance, to be published by Yale University Press in 2021.
Michael is also involved in a research titled 'The Financial Geography of Green Finance Policy: Evaluating Policy Effectiveness across over 50 countries'. The project is financed by the International Network for Sustainable Financial Policy Insights, Research and Exchange (INSPIRE). The project seeks to make two contributions, namely: i) an in-depth mapping of green finance policies and traditional environmental policy instruments across more than 50 countries, and ii) a quantitative analysis of the impact of extant green finance policies in shifting capital towards green solutions and away from emission intensive activities.
- Urban, M. (2019) Rescaling of American public pension finance: are state and local plans running away from Wall Street? Territory, Politics and Governance.
- Urban, M. and Wojcik, D. (2019) Dirty Banking: Probing the Gap in Sustainable Finance. Sustainability, 11(6).
- Urban, M.A. (2019) Placing the production of investment returns: an economic geography of asset management in public pension plans. Economic Geography, 95(5): 494-518.
- Haberly, D., Urban, M.A. and Wojcik, D. (2018) Asset Management as a Digital Platform Industry: A Global Financial Network Perspective. Geoforum, 106: 167-181.
- Urban, M. (2018) Producing investment returns at the margin of finance: A frontier talent proposition. Geoforum, 95: 102-111.
- Urban, M. (2018) Six Key Influences on the Efficiency of Insourcing in State and Local Plans. The Journal of Retirement, 5(4): 57-72.
- Urban, M.A., Pazitka, V., Ioannou, S. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) Lead firms and sectoral resilience: The case of Goldman Sachs and the global financial crisis. Available from: http://www.fingeo.net.
- Urban M.A. (forthcoming) Finance and Development in the 21st Century. In, Wójcik, D. et al. Atlas of Finance. New Haven: Yale University Press (to be published in 2021).
- Cojoianou T., Hoepner A., Urban M.A. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) The Financial Geography of Green Finance Policy: Evalutating Policy Effectiveness across over 50 countries.
- Pazitka, V., Urban, M.A. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) Resilience of financial centres to demand shocks: A dynamic panel data analysis, 1993-2016.
- Urban, M.A. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) Who "Makes" Green and Brown Investments? Linking Asset Ownership with Investment Banking.
- Urban, M.A., Dörry, S. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) The Rise and Fall of European Asset Management Centres: an empirical analysis, 2003-2019.
- Urban, M.A. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) Labor and Control Shifts: FIRE in US Metro Areas, 2007-2017.
- Urban, M.A. and Wójcik, D. (working paper) City of Dreams and Silicon Gardens: A Tale of Two Indian Financial Centres.
- Wójcik, D., Pazitka, V. and Urban M.A. (working paper) The Footprint of Consolidation in Global Financial Networks: An Analysis of Mergers and Acquisitions in Financial and Business Services Sector.