April 5, 2014
If you haven’t been following Michael Lewis’ world wind publicity tour for his new book on HFT, I’d like to offer a couple of highlights.
If you’re not familiar with the topic start with this interview, aired March 30 on the investigative news show 60 Minutes. (The full 14 minute segment is cued second, but it’s worth suffering the two rounds of commercials.) Look out for the ‘magic shoe box’, a physical device to slow down high speed traders at IEX, the exchange started by the Canadian hero of the book Brad Katsuyama, to solve the problem.
If you’re intrigued, continue onto the heated technical debate between Katsuyama and the president of the BATS exchange, William O’Brien, that was so compelling you can see the brokers on the floor transfixed by the TV. This one’s stunning. A must watch from beginning to end. I recommend it as a teaching tool for students.
While we are looking to expand research and teaching strengths in all areas of Management, we are keen to receive applications for the following areas:
• Accounting- in particular Institutional Approaches and Management Accounting.
Applicants in this area will be considered particularly favourably.
• Finance- in particular Financial Econometrics, Empirical-behavioural Finance, Asset Pricing, Corporate Finance and Financial Economic History.
You will be accomplished in your area of expertise and will be responsible for supporting the work of the Department as we seek to further enhance our international standing. With clear career progression paths, accomplished academics can quickly excel within their field quickly; perhaps the clearest attestation of this is the extraordinarily low staff turnover rate that the School enjoys in the context of a febrile international employment market for academic staff in the Business and Management area.
Within whichever field your expertise lies, we are able to accommodate applications for the following levels:
Teaching Fellow- (Teaching only) – Grade 7 – £31,644- £36,661
Lecturer – (Teaching & Research and Teaching Dominant) Grade 8- £36,661- £45,053
Senior Lecturer (Teaching & Research and Teaching Dominant) Grade 9 -£47,787- £53,765
For exceptional candidates we would consider appointment to Reader or Chair
Yuval Millo, email@example.com (Accounting and Social Studies of Finance)
Emmanuel Haven, firstname.lastname@example.org (Finance)
For more details: http://tinyurl.com/pot46gk
The sixth Critical Finance Studies conference will be held at the University of Amsterdam from August 13–15, 2014. This year we are again looking for contributions to our ongoing collaborative research project that seeks to engage finance in critically creative ways.
Although critical attention is regularly devoted to finance, it generally takes the form of a call for transparency, or the systemic repair and restructuring of a paradigm in need of a shift. While finance is clearly a societal domain ridden with crisis, our sense of critique embraces the possibility of risky confrontations with the external powers that drive finance, as well as with internal, ethical combats that impact on the critic’s own situation within academic discourses on finance. We are, therefore, calling for contributions that take into account the relationship of the critic to finance and to discourses on finance, including received values, moral codes, authoritarian knowledge, political correctness, academic manners, common sense, good will, opinion and implicit presuppositions. We also invite papers that approach finance through avenues that have been underexplored such as theology, philosophy, art, music, film, new media and television, to give just a few examples.
Possible topics may include but are far from limited to:
• Finance, art and philosophy
• Theology of finance
• Finance, education and neo-liberalization
• Street finance
• Finance and ethics
• Financial imaginaries
• Finance and society
• Finance on film
• Gambling, risk and finance
• Finance and visualization
• Finance and subjectivity
• Boundaries of finance
• Sustainable finance
• Finance and value
• City branding and liquid cities
SSFN Mailing List
[Social Studies of Finance Network]
March 27, 2014
In a dark television studio atop one of the LSE’s towers, this morning I was interviewed by Mark Jackson, marketing and recruitment manager of the LSE Executive Summer School. Here’s a summary of the interview.
Mark Jackson: Please give a brief overview of your course.
Daniel Beunza: The name of the course is “Sociology of Finance,” but perhaps the subtitle is more to the point: “Networks, Culture and Performance.” The course builds on a paradox, which is that while models and equations are necessary to get a foothold in finance, getting ahead in a bank or a fund depends much more on your networks, your fit into the culture, and on being perceived as a leader. None of the courses on finance out there teach those skills. That’s what this course is about.
Mark Jackson: Could you give me some examples?
The course starts with the notion of bank culture. How to be an effective manager, when your employees are traders and investment bankers? Not an easy task. For instance, how do you deal with a star trader who is aggressive to the point of toxic? We explore the tensions between financial performance and what sociologists call “normative control”.
This session is followed by a day on modeling, and especially on how to benefit from the power of models while avoid the blind spots that they might create. We talk about the role of social cues, and about how to combine the use models with social cues from one’s network, and more generally on the danger of cognitive “resonance.”
The third day is devoted to algorithms in finance. We discuss high frequency trading. How it works, how to automate an organization without giving up the human element that made it competitive in the first place, etc. We might include a visit to one of the financial exchanges in London.
Our fourth session day focuses on the social dynamics of valuation. As much as the financial value of a company depends on the existing data about company performance, at any one point in time there are multiple value estimates out there – and financial analysts typically argue about valuation with one another. How to navigate these controversies? We also consider what the social and interpretive aspect of valuation means for companies who want to communicate with their investors, i.e., for investor relations. How to structure an effective message? We’ll do some interesting role plays.
The final day looks out to the future, and considers the rise of activist investment, of private wealth, and responsible investment. On this last point, we ask: does investing in environmental companies make sense? Under what conditions and in what investment styles? How can other organizations –data providers, technology vendors, etc.– benefit from it?
Mark Jackson: Describe why your course is relevant to today’s global executives.
This course is aimed a senior managers of banks and hedge funds, as well as risk managers, financial consultants and regulators. More generally, it is aimed at professionals who are seeking career advancement by understanding the managerial and social aspect of finance.
March 25, 2014
To be released sometime this month, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. The description for W.W. Norton is a bit vague, but the title suggests it’s a story about high frequency trading.
March 19, 2014
Can Markets Solve Problems…?
To join in the conversation at the forthcoming EASST conference you can apply for the session below.
The session is focused on the complex entanglements of markets, problems and solutions. We are interested in: the way markets are proposed as the basis for resolving (even simplifying and delegating responsibility for) otherwise complex problems; how markets are designed to make an intervention; the kinds of devices required to introduce markets; the seductive discourses of markets and their apparent ability to generate value, effectiveness and equality; the consequences of market-based initiatives, how they work, what counts as value, effectiveness or equality, and to whom; to what extent and through what means market-based initiatives can be said to succeed or fail.
So we are interested in drawing together the recent STS interest in markets with the longer standing STS interest in problems and solutions. Given your long-standing research in markets we would be delighted if you could take part. Please get in touch if you are interested in submitting an abstract or would like any further information about the session.
To find out more about our on-going research project on markets as solutions to problems, take a look at our new website: www.marketproblems.com
March 17, 2014
Good news! The LSE is launching a new executive summer course in the sociology of finance.
The course, titled “Culture, Networks and Performance,” is a first of its kind. For the first time, an academic program is putting to use the award-winning concepts of the sociology of finance –market devices, embeddedness, performativity– to give professionals in finance an advantage in trading, banking or risk management.
This course is premised on one simple idea: that there is a new and distinctive way to think sociologically about financial markets. Different from orthodox economics and its emphasis on rational choice. Different as well from behavioral finance and its focus on individuals and mistakes (or “biases”). The sociology of finance incorporates technology like formulae and machines in our understanding of markets. It conceptualizes markets as controversies, where there is often no right and wrong. It explains why management, culture, practice, are critically important to the calculative processes of a bank. And it provides a balanced take on markets – in between the “markets always get it right” approach from economics, and the “this is how people get it wrong” from behavioral finance.
Participants can expect to:
- Understand the relational aspects of finance
- Acquire skills to manage the culture of financial firms
- Understand the impact of technology on financial markets
- Discover the limits of economic and financial models
- Explore the ways in which by financial communication shapes value
The course is organized by Nina Andreeva and myself. But the instructors will include a broad set of heavyweights from the LSE, including Michael Power (LSE Accounting), Paul Willman (LSE Management), Jean Pierre Zigrand (LSE Finance) and Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra (LSE Sociology).
For more information, dates and a longer description, see here. And for even more information, just drop me a line at email@example.com
March 17, 2014
For those of you in London, you may which to note the following event taking place at Goldsmiths organized by gambling scholar Claire Loussouarn.
MSc in Finance, Markets and Organizations, a new 1-year masters program with a strong emphasis on Social Studies of Finance, that we will start running here, the School of Management, University of Leicester, from this October. If you have undergraduate students who may be interested, feel free to circulate.
Professor of Social Studies of Finance and Management accounting
School of Management, University of Leicester
February 27, 2014
In her latest column for FT, Gillian Tett highlights the work of legal scholar and anthropologist of finance Annelise Riles. The topic is regulatory harmonization, the attempt to make financial regulation the same across all nations. Since complete harmony is next to impossible, Annelise has been arguing that financial regulators should consider applying a old and established body of law called ‘conflict-of-law’, to finance.
Annelise is making a technical argument which may feel a bit obscure at first to social scientists without legal training. For those who do not have access to FT, you can find a brief explanation of the paper in Risk & Regulation Magazine, which I’m currently editing for CARR at LSE.
According to Annelise:
Unlike the harmonization paradigm which pursues legal uniformity, the “conflicts approach” accepts that regulatory nationalism is a fact of life, and sets for itself the more modest goal of achieving coordination among different national regimes.
Under the conflicts approach the point is not to define one set of rules that apply for all, as is the case in public international law –the law of international organizations such as the UN or the WTO. Rather, it is simply to define under which circumstance should a particular dispute or problem be subject to one state’s law or another.
Thinking in terms of ‘conflict of laws’ changes the debate over global financial regulation because it raises an altogether different set of questions that are largely being ignored. For example: How far does each regulatory jurisdiction extend, and what should be done when there is overlap? When should so-called host regulators of a global, systemically important financial institution defer to so-called home regulators. Thinking about conflicts between laws encourages us to more carefully examine how we allocate authority across the existing regulatory regimes. The approach gives us another way of examining, and therefore of challenging, the scope of national, international, and non-state regulation. After all, when regulators or market participants make a claim about the application of one or another body of laws to a given party or transaction, they are effectively making an implicit claim about what the scope of their national law should be.
Gillian comments that, “In the near future, such radical ideas are unlikely to fly.” But she also notes that”some regulators do now appear to be privately conceding Ms Riles’ point – namely that co-ordination is an unworkable fantasy – and quietly hunting for alternatives.“