Configuring Financial Markets
Please cite the paper as:
“Ken Zimmerman, (2012), Configuring Financial Markets, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 3 2012, Rethinking Financial Markets, 1st November to 31st December, 2012”
We are caught between those who celebrate financial markets and calculative agents and those who denounce them. Many economists are in the former camp; many social scientists in the latter. This paper begins with a conclusion: “a pox on both your houses.” Financial markets and calculative agents are not natural, as that term is generally applied. And they certainly are not just human creations or embedded in society. Financial markets and calculative agents exist because they are formatted and constructed (performed, to use Callon’s term) in the ongoing interactions by which all collective existence (all living together) is made. Financial markets and agents are very real but for reasons that have been seldom examined or even talked about. Callon contends that primarily disciplinary economics produces markets and the calculative agents that inhabit them.
That is one of the things I will consider in this paper. But I will also follow Callon’s advice to “…explore the diversity of calculative agencies forms and distributions, and hence of organized markets. … [the market] is a many-sided, diversified, evolving device which the social sciences as well as the actors themselves contribute to reconfigure.” The central question is how are calculative agencies equipped, by economics and otherwise to carry out their calculations and thus establish the markets we see every day?