Angela Cummine | Research Staff | Academic | Profiles
Angela Cummine

Angela Cummine

(D.Phil, M.Phil Oxon; BA LLB Hons I USyd)

British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow in Political Theory
Political Theory
+44 (0)7949 582 986
New College
Office Address:
Room 145, Politics and International Relations, Manor Road Building, Manor Road


Angela is a political theorist with expertise in the democratic governance of state-owned assets and economic inequality. She is a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) at the University of Oxford and an Extraordinary Member of the SCR of New College, Oxford. She is Director of The Wealth Project at the Oxford Martin School, an Advisory Committee member for the "UK Social Wealth Fund" project and a permanent academic member of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF). Her first book Citizens' Wealth: Why (and How) to Manage Soveriegn Funds By the People For the People was published by Yale Univeristy Press in 2016. 

Angela earned her masters (with Distinction) and doctorate in Political Theory from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and was selected as a Jenkins Memorial Fellow, a Scatcherd Scholar and a Politics Merit Recipient for academic excellence. She completed her D.Phil on a Europeaum exchange at the University of Bologna. Angela graduated with 1st Class Honours in Political Science and Law (BA LLB) from the University of Sydney, where she won the Henry F. Albinski Prize for Best Undergraduate Thesis in Australian Foreign and Defence Policy and prizes in International Trade Law and the Law of International Organisations when on exchange at the Australian National University (ANU). She is an admitted lawyer in the Supreme Court of NSW (2007).

Angela has tutored politics at St Anne's, Wadham and Pembroke Colleges at Oxford University as well as pursued broader interests in political theory in qualitative methodology, voting theory and gender equality. She founded the Interpretive Analysis Network (IAN) in the DPIR to act as a forum for experience exchange and expertise gathering for researchers using methods that engage with the interpretive analysis of text. She also worked at the British Academy on voting reform in the lead up to the UK’s Alternative Vote Referendum (2010) and organised events to celebrate the anniversary of the admission of women to the Rhodes Scholarship and New College.

Public Policy

Outside of academia, Angela has provided advice to governments, international organisations and institutional investors on ethical and governance issues surrounding sovereign wealth and international investment. Following completion of her doctorate which identified principles for the proper management, investment and distribution of sovereign wealth, Angela worked as a sovereign investor consultant with the Investment Institute at Investec Asset Management and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF). At Investec, she co-authored with the Harvard Kennedy School a major report on Sovereign Investor Models: Institutions and Policies for Managing Sovereign Wealth. At OMFIF, a globally-operating platform for confidential exchanges of views between official institutions and private sector counter parties, she was co-editor with David Marsh of the first edition of the Global Public Investor 2014, a new worldwide publication on public sector asset management at official monetary institutions.

During her graduate studies, Angela consulted to the inaugural Chairman of the Australian Future Fund, an AU$124 billion sovereign asset owner, and the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF), a voluntary group of 30 SWFs which facilitates understanding of the Santiago Principles and SWF activities. She also worked at Euromoney Institutional Investor's Sovereign Wealth Centre in its start up phase as an SWF analyst and the OECD International Investment Division (Paris office) on freedom of investment issues.

She commenced her career in the Australian Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2006-2007) as a policy advisor to the Prime Minister's office on legal issues.

My current research project, supported by the British Academy, investigates the ownership status of the state and its commercial/financial assets. The past decade saw a resurgence of the ‘owner state’ that was reactive and proactive. On the reactive front, the financial crisis required extensive government intervention across OECD economies, resulting in an unplanned build up of public assets and record public liabilities. On the proactive front, many governments capitalized on windfalls from the super commodity cycle and trade surpluses, storing impressive levels of wealth in new Sovereign Wealth Funds. These new assets and liabilities pose tough choices for governments regarding the distribution of their benefits and burdens, especially in light of the classical political theory demand that citizens must be situated equally vis-a-vis the state. This project seeks to assist governments in those choices by determining the rightful owner of contemporary state property: citizen, tax-payer or government. It does so by revising classic state theory to develop a new ownership framework for public property and producing policy recommendations. 

While the empirical dimension of the state’s ‘return’ to the economy receives attention in political science debates between those that claim the state is in ‘retreat’, ‘decline’, ‘withering’ or ‘waning’, and those who reject such views as a ‘myth’, the normative implications of this resurgence for the citizen-state relationship remain unaddressed. Specifically, how should the benefits of newly amassed public wealth and the burdens of record national debt be distributed? Can the state own something in its own right or is it only ever the steward of the people's property? If the people own state property, which citizens in what generation can demand the benefit of or responsibility for these assets?


Theoretical approach

This project responds to these questions by situating today’s rebirth of the ‘owner state’ historically and developing an updated conceptual framework of public ownership for analyzing the distribution of benefits and burdens of new state property. It draws on two canonical, yet overlooked theories in contemporary political philosophy: state theory and ownership theory. Since Hobbes, the dominant strand in state theory has been a kind of 'state-as-person' thesis. If we conceive of the state as a person, then it can take responsibility (like an individual) for its acts, including carrying a debt and owning assets. But the state-as-person analogy ignores domestic politics: as soon as the state starts borrowing or acquiring, a politics of social class intrudes, just as we are seeing across Europe today. If the state can choose who is going to benefit from, and shoulder the burden of, the public finances, then the fundamental claim of democratic political theory that citizens be equally situated vis-a-vis the state is compromised. We must reexamine the appropriateness of classic state theory in contemporary economic circumstances.

This can be partly achieved with a revamp of public property theory. While treatments of private property are extensive in political theory, public ownership is comparatively under-analysed. The lower analytical priority of public property in part results from the confused relationship between public and private property. In Reeve’s (1986) words: ‘is public ownership modeled on private ownership, or is it to be its negation?’ Theorists like Hannah Arendt hold that the concept of ownership belongs exclusively to private property since ‘the public’ cannot exercise ownership rights in any way similar to that of an individual. Despite extensive contributions to property theory since Reeve posed that question, a systematic understanding of public property is still wonting. We still do not have a good grip on the difference between common, collective, state and public ownership, yet these property systems are increasingly looked to as alternatives to the private property model in contemporary capitalist systems. Well-worn philosophical metaphors based on shared rights to common parks and natural resources are not easily transferable to the case of public economic assets. Today however, these are the very forms of state property which hold significant implications for citizen equality vis-à-vis each other and the state. In response, this project will attempt to inject conceptual clarity and normative nuance into discussions of ‘public ownership’. 

Political Theory Government Citizenship Democratic theory Global governance Methods


  • Political Sociology
  • Women in Politics
  • Theory of Politics


Citizens' Wealth: Why (and how) to Manage Sovereign Funds by the People, for the People. London: Yale University Press (2016)

Peer-reviewed publications

‘A Tale of Two Sovereign Funds: China’s Exceptionalism in Sovereign Wealth Management through CIC and SAFE' International Journal of Public Policy (In press, 2016)

How Singapore has Driven Temasek’s Development, East Asia Forum Quarterly Vol.6. No. 4, Oct-Dec 2014, pp.40-42 (republished online in East Asia Forum, 17 February 2015)

'Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund and Global Justice: An Exchange', Ethics & International Affairs, 24 January 2014

‘Overcoming Dividend Skepticism’, Basic Income Studies Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Article 4 [Winner of the 2011 Basic Income Studies Essay Prize]

Edited Collections

‘Ethical Sovereign Investors: Sovereign Wealth Funds and Human Rights’ in Jernej Letnar Cernic and Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (eds) Making Sovereign Financing and Human Rights Work (London: Hart, 2014)

'Sovereign Wealth Funds: Can they be Community Funds' in Stuart White and Niki Seth-Smith (eds) Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizen's Economy (OpenDemocracy, 2014)

‘Why the World’s Sovereign Wealth Funds are Not Paying Dividends’ in Karl Widerquist and Michael Howard (eds) Exporting the Alaska Model: How the Permanent Fund Dividend Can be Adapted as a Reform Model for the World (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2012)


'Sovereign Investor Models: Institutions and Policies for Managing Sovereign Wealth', Discussion Paper, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School (April 2015) with Khalid Al-Sweilem, Malan Rietveld and Katherine Tweedie

Global Public Investor 2014, Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (London: OMFIF, 2014) with David Marsh

Freedom of Investment Process, Inventory of Investment Measures Taken Between 16 March 2010 and 15 September 2010, Investment Committee, OECD, October 2010

Balinski, M., R. Johnson, I. McLean and P. Young with research assistance from A. Cummine (2010) Drawing a New Constituency Map for the United Kingdom: The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituency Bills 2010, October 2010 (London: British Academy)

Hix, S., R. Johnston and I. McLean with research from A. Cummine (2010), Choosing an Electoral System, March 2010 (London: British Academy)

Media and Commentary

'Saudi's refine blueprint for post-oil economy'Al-Monitor, 26 April 2016 (Cited in article)

‘A Citizen’s Income and Wealth Fund for the UK: Lessons from Alaska’, IPPR Juncture (cross-posted by OpenDemocracy and Politics in Spires), 11 Feb 2015

‘Sovereign Wealth Funds: Can they be Community Funds’, OpenDemocracy, 6 Nov 2013

'Responsibility for Public Investors: The Challenge of Greater Scrutiny', OMFIF Bulletin, Sept 2013, Vol 4(8) pp.36-37

'Energy Boom Enriches US State Funds', Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, 22 August 2013

‘Sovereign Wealth Fund: A Missed Opportunity’ABC The Drum, 8 September 2011

'No SWF for Australia: Superannuation Instead?Oxford SWF Project (guest blog), 7 September 2011

‘A Nest Egg for the Country could be Just What Labor Needs’, The National Times, 7 September 2011

‘Should Feminists Back Michele Bachmann?’, The Guardian, 25 August 2011

‘Share the Wealth’, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2011   

Alternative vote would deliver different results in OxfordInterview with The Oxford Times, 4 April 2011

'Who Owns SWFs?', Oxford SWF Project (guest blog), 24 February 2011 (cited by FT Alphaville, NYTimes.Com Buzztracker, The Economist)

'United We Stand, but Divided we Apologise', Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 2008       

Conference papers and presentations

'Privatisation as a Debt-Reduction Strategy for Zimbabwe: Lessons from Greece', Invited Presentation, The Centenary Club, Royal Harare Golf Club, Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 April 2016

‘The Neglected Potential of Sovereign Wealth Funds’, Presentation to Rethinking Public Assets seminar, University of Oxford, co-hosted by the DPIR, New Economics Foundation and Positive Money, 26 Nov 2015

‘The Greek Privatization Fund And Fiduciary State Theory: Evaluating The Sale Of Greek National Assets To Service Debt Through A Fiduciary Prism’ (2015), Invited presentation to the ICAL Roundtable on Sovereign Debt Revisited By Constitutional And International Law, hosted by the Greek Parliament, Athens, 13-14 Nov 2015

‘China’s Sovereign Investment Funds in International Perspective: The Exceptionalism of CIC and SAFE’ (2014), Invitational presentation to the ANU–Business Council of Australia Roundtable on Chinese State-owned Enterprises and Global Investment, Sydney, 28-29 August 2014

'Alaska, an egalitarian paradise? A critique of the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend using original focus group and qualitative survey data', Presentation to the Rothermere American Institute Politics and IR Seminar, 29 April 2013 

‘A Basic Income in Alaska: Findings of Focus Group Research’, 11th North American Basic Income Conference, University of Toronto, 2-5 May 2012

‘The Ideal of Universal Basic Income and the Reality of Political Practice: An Alaskan Case-Study’, Ideals and Reality in Social Ethics Conference, University of Newport Wales, Caerleon Campus, April 2012

Response to Paper on ‘Historical Injustice and Liberalism’, Oxford Graduate Political Theory Conference, University of Oxford, April 2012.

‘A Left-Libertarian Right to Sovereign Wealth Funds’, Political Theory Graduate Workshop, Oxford University, 27 March 2011

‘Overcoming Dividend Skepticism’, Presentation at the 10th Annual North American Basic Income Conference, New York, 25-27 February 2011

‘Who Owns a Nation’s Capital: Sovereign, State or Citizen’, Ethics and Economics Barchem Summer School, August 2010, Netherlands.

‘Sovereign Wealth to tackle Wealth Inequality?’, Paper presented at the Oxford Science Po Inequalities Conference, Science Po Paris, 9-10 Dec 2009

‘A Citizen’s Stake in Sovereign Wealth: A Left-Libertarian Perspective’, Paper presented at the VII Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy, Pavia University, Italy, 23-24 Sept 2009

Academic theses

Doctoral Thesis: A Citizen's Stake in Sovereign Wealth Funds: the Management, Investment and Distribution of Sovereign Wealth (Examiners: Profs Jeremy Waldron and Christopher Pierson)

MPhil Thesis: A Citizen's Stake in Sovereign Wealth: An Analysis of the Distributive Justice Implications of Sovereign Wealth Funds [Awarded a Distinction and 2nd place in the year]

BA(Hons) Undergraduate Honours thesis in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney: 'Procuring an Ally: The Buy American Bias in Australian Defence Procurement', [Awarded the Henry Albinski Prize for Best Undergraduate Thesis in Australian Foreign and Defence Policy, Economics and Business Faculty]

During and immediately following her graduate studies, Angela undertook a range of consulting work to international organisations and institutional investors. 

Investec Asset Management (London), Investment Institute Consultant                                                  Jan-Dec 2014

  • Consultant for advisory report to Middle Eastern client looking to establish new sovereign investment vehicle for managing commodity wealth
  • Developed recommendations for client based on original analysis of sovereign wealth fund (SWF) universe and confidential data collated through interviews and private workshops with SWF managers, central bankers and government officials
  • Authored and disseminated thought leadership on official institution asset management

Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, Global Public Investor Editor                   Jul 2013-May 2014

  • Consulting editor to OMFIF on production and development of Global Public Investor 2014, a new worldwide publication on public sector asset management at official institutionsincluding central banks, SWFs and public pension funds (launched June 2014 at London City Hall)
  • Advised on content, thematic structure and commissions; solicited contributions; edited content
  • Leveraged existing network with public investors and private sector counter parties to solicit contributions, secure sponsorship and promote publication within global investment community

Euromoney Institutional Investor (London), Sovereign Wealth Fund Analyst                               March – Dec2012

  • Conducted research and analysis for Institutional Investor’s Sovereign Wealth Centre, a London-based advisory service on sovereign funds in global financial research firm Euromoney
  • Produced multiple in-depth profiles analyzing portfolio design, investment strategy, responsible investment practices and organizational structure of sovereign funds
  • Forecast investment strategy for asset managers seeking SWF mandates

Future Fund (Australia), $110 billion sovereign asset owner, Policy Advisor to Chairman                 2010-2012                    

  • Advisory work for inaugural Chairman David Murray (2006-2012), former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, one of Australia’s big four banks.
  • Produced keynote talks, media pieces and internal briefs on global investment and financial regulatory issues with projects ranging from 2 week to 2 month assignments
  • Prepared background materials for and participated in high level meetings with senior officials
  • Provided advice and research for the Fund’s submission to Senate enquiry into the Ethical Investment Amendment Bill 2012 on responsible investment by government funds

International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF), Consultant                                               2010-2012

  • Prepared policy papers, media pieces and in-house research for the IFSWF, a 24 member international organization of the world’s major sovereign asset owners representing over US$2 trillion in sovereign wealth. Reported direct to inaugural IFSWF Chairman, David Murray (2008-2011)
  • Produced timely analysis on policy developments in the global investment and financial regulatory environment and their impact on sovereign investors
  • Attended IFSWF meetings and other high-level fora (Institutional Investor Global Sovereign Roundtable, OECD, European Commission events) to network with asset managers and investors

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) Consultant                                    Aug-Oct 2010

  • Policy consultant in the Investment Division’s 5 member ‘Freedom of Investment’ team
  • Provided analysis for reports to G20 and OECD 50 member Round Table summit on discriminatory treatment of foreign investors
  • Engaged with private sector and government representatives on report content

British Academy Policy Institute, Researcher                                                                                             Nov 2009- Sept 2010

  • Translated technical scholarly research on voting theory into public policy advice on voting systems for two British Academy Policy Unit reports on electoral reform in the lead up to the UK Alternative Vote referendum (2010)
  • Canvassed views of relevant stakeholders (electoral commissions, think tanks, public service) 

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)

Citizen's Income/Basic Income

Ethical/Responsible Investment

Democratic governance of financial institutions

Property theory and ownership 

Gender equality in politics