In this significant Marxist critique of contemporary American imperialism, the cultural theorist Randy Martin argues that a finance-based logic of risk control has come to dominate Americans’ everyday lives as well as U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Risk management—the ability to adjust for risk and to leverage it for financial gain—is the key to personal finance as well as the defining element of the massive global market in financial derivatives. The United States wages its amorphous war on terror by leveraging particular interventions (such as Iraq) to much larger ends (winning the war on terror) and by deploying small numbers of troops and targeted weaponry to achieve broad effects. Both in global financial markets and on far-flung battlegrounds, the multiplier effects are difficult to foresee or control.
Drawing on theorists including Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Achille Mbembe, Martin illuminates a frightening financial logic that must be understood in order to be countered. Martin maintains that finance divides the world between those able to avail themselves of wealth opportunities through risk taking (investors) and those who cannot do so, who are considered “at risk.” He contends that modern-day American imperialism differs from previous models of imperialism, in which the occupiers engaged with the occupied to “civilize” them, siphon off wealth, or both. American imperialism, by contrast, is an empire of indifference: a massive flight from engagement. The United States urges an embrace of risk and self-management on the occupied and then ignores or dispossesses those who cannot make the grade.
Security and risk have become central to how cities are planned, built, governed, and inhabited in the twenty-first century. In Endangered City, Austin Zeiderman focuses on this new political imperative to govern the present in anticipation of future harm. Through ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Bogotá, Colombia, he examines how state actors work to protect the lives of poor and vulnerable citizens from a range of threats, including environmental hazards and urban violence. By following both the governmental agencies charged with this mandate and the subjects governed by it, Endangered City reveals what happens when logics of endangerment shape the terrain of political engagement between citizens and the state. The self-built settlements of Bogotá’s urban periphery prove a critical site from which to examine the rising effect of security and risk on contemporary cities and urban life.
The market for financial derivatives is far and away the largest and most powerful market in the world, and it is growing exponentially. In 1970 the yearly valuation of financial derivatives was only a few million dollars. By 1980 the sum had swollen to nearly one hundred million dollars. By 1990 it had climbed to almost one hundred billion dollars, and in 2000 it approached one hundred trillion. Created and sustained by a small number of European and American banks, corporations, and hedge funds, the derivatives market has an enormous impact on the economies of nations—particularly poorer nations—because it controls the price of money. Derivatives bought and sold by means of computer keystrokes in London and New York affect the price of food, clothing, and housing in Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, and Buenos Aires. Arguing that social theorists concerned with globalization must familiarize themselves with the mechanisms of a world economy based on the rapid circulation of capital, Edward LiPuma and Benjamin Lee offer a concise introduction to financial derivatives.
LiPuma and Lee explain how derivatives are essentially wagers—often on the fluctuations of national currencies—based on models that aggregate and price risk. They describe how these financial instruments are changing the face of capitalism, undermining the power of nations and perpetrating a new and less visible form of domination on postcolonial societies. As they ask: How does one know about, let alone demonstrate against, an unlisted, virtual, offshore corporation that operates in an unregulated electronic space using a secret proprietary trading strategy to buy and sell arcane financial instruments? LiPuma and Lee provide a necessary look at the obscure but consequential role of financial derivatives in the global economy.
Security is a defining characteristic of our age and the driving force behind the management of collective political, economic, and social life. Directed at safeguarding society against future peril, security is often thought of as the hard infrastructures and invisible technologies assumed to deliver it: walls, turnstiles, CCTV cameras, digital encryption, and the like. The contributors to Futureproof redirect this focus, showing how security is a sensory domain shaped by affect and image as much as rules and rationalities. They examine security as it is lived and felt in domains as varied as real estate listings, active-shooter drills, border crossings, landslide maps, gang graffiti, and museum exhibits to theorize how security regimes are expressed through aesthetic forms. Taking a global perspective with studies ranging from Jamaica to Jakarta and Colombia to the U.S.-Mexico border, Futureproof expands our understanding of the security practices, infrastructures, and technologies that pervade everyday life.
Contributors. Victoria Bernal, Jon Horne Carter, Alexandra Demshock, Zaire Z. Dinzey-Flores, Didier Fassin, D. Asher Ghertner, Daniel M. Goldstein, Rachel Hall, Rivke Jaffe, Ieva Jusionyte, Catherine Lutz, Alejandra Leal Martínez, Hudson McFann, Limor Samimian-Darash, AbdouMaliq Simone, Austin Zeiderman
This first extensive study of the practice of blood transfusion in Africa traces the history of one of the most important therapies in modern medicine from the period of colonial rule to independence and the AIDS epidemic. The introduction of transfusion held great promise for improving health, but like most new medical practices, transfusion needed to be adapted to the needs of sub-Saharan Africa, for which there was no analogous treatment in traditional African medicine.
This otherwise beneficent medical procedure also created a “royal road” for microorganisms, and thus played a central part in the emergence of human immune viruses in epidemic form. As with more developed health care systems, blood transfusion practices in sub-Saharan Africa were incapable of detecting the emergence of HIV. As a result, given the wide use of transfusion, it became an important pathway for the initial spread of AIDS. Yet African health officials were not without means to understand and respond to the new danger, thanks to forty years of experience and a framework of appreciating long-standing health risks. The response to this risk, detailed in this book, yields important insight into the history of epidemics and HIV/AIDS.
Drawing on research from colonial-era governments, European Red Cross societies, independent African governments, and directly from health officers themselves, this book is the only historical study of the practice of blood transfusion in Africa.
In Making the Most of Mess, Emery Roe emphasizes that policy messes cannot be avoided or cleaned up; they need to be managed. He shows how policymakers and other professionals can learn these necessary skills from control operators who manage large critical infrastructures such as water supplies, telecommunications systems, and electricity grids. The ways in which they prevent major accidents and failures offer models for policymakers and other professionals to manage the messes they face.
Throughout, Roe focuses on the global financial mess of 2008 and its ongoing aftermath, showing how mismanagement has allowed it to morph into other national and international messes. More effective management is still possible for this and many other policy messes but that requires better recognition of patterns and formulation of scenarios, as well as the ability to translate pattern and scenario into reliability. Developing networks of professionals who respond to messes is particularly important. Roe describes how these networks enable the avoidance of bad or worse messes, take advantage of opportunities resulting from messes, and address societal and professional challenges. In addition to finance, he draws from a wide range of case material in other policy arenas. Roe demonstrates that knowing how to manage policy messes is the best approach to preventing crises.
How does the government or a business plan for an unimaginable disaster-a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, a gigantic oil spill, or a nuclear attack? Lee Clarke examines actual attempts to "prepare" for these catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the plans have no chance to succeed, yet they serve both the organizations and the public as symbols of control, order, and stability. These "fantasy documents" attempt to inspire confidence in organizations, but for Clarke they are disturbing persuasions, soothing our perception that we ultimately cannot control our own technological advances.
For example, Clarke studies corporations' plans for cleaning up oil spills in Prince William Sound prior to the Exxon Valdez debacle, and he finds that the accepted strategies were not just unrealistic but completely untenable. Although different organizations were required to have a cleanup plan for huge spills in the sound, a really massive spill was unprecedented, and the accepted policy was little more than a patchwork of guesses based on (mostly unsuccessful) cleanups after smaller accidents.
While we are increasingly skeptical of big organizations, we still have no choice but to depend on them for protection from large-scale disasters. We expect their specialists to tell the truth, and yet, as Clarke points out, reassuring rhetoric (under the guise of expert prediction) may have no basis in fact or truth because no such basis is attainable.
In uncovering the dangers of planning when implementation is a fantasy, Clarke concludes that society would be safer, smarter, and fairer if organizations could admit their limitations.
"An incursion into new territory written with insight and flair, Clarke's book achieves a revolution in understanding plans as an organizational activity-how they come about, why they go awry, and the often-disastrous disconnect between plans and an organization's ability to carry them out. A book that will fascinate general readers, administrators, organization theorists, and disaster buffs, Mission Improbable stands as a valuable companion volume to Pressman and Wildavsky's Implementation."—Diane Vaughan, author of The Challenger Launch Decision
Since banking systems play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the economy, the adverse effects of poorly supervised systems may be quite severe. Without some form of vigilant external oversight, banking systems could fall prey to excessive risk taking, moral hazard, and corruption. Prudential supervision provides that oversight, using government regulation and monitoring to ensure the soundness of the banking system and, by extension, the economy at large.
The contributors to this thoughtful volume examine the current state of prudential supervision, focusing on fundamental issues and key pragmatic concerns. Why is prudential supervision so important? What kinds of excess must it guard against? What particular forms does it take? Which of these are the most effective deterrents against mismanagement and system overload in today's rapidly shifting financial climate? The contributors foresee a continued movement beyond simple regulatory rules in banking and toward a more active evaluation and supervision of a bank's risk management practices.
As managers grapple with the challenges of climate change and volatility in a hyper-connected, global economy, they are paying increasing attention to their organization’s resilience—its capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change. Sudden natural disasters and unforeseen supply chain disruptions are increasingly common in the new normal. Pursuing business as usual is no longer viable, and many companies are unaware of how fragile they really are. To cope with these challenges, management needs a new paradigm that takes an integrated view of the built environment, the ecosystems, and the social fabric in which their businesses operate. Resilient by Design provides business executives with a comprehensive approach to achieving consistent success in a changing world. Rich with examples and case studies of organizations that are designing resilience into their business processes, it explains how to connect with important external systems—stakeholders, communities, infrastructure, supply chains, and natural resources—and create innovative, dynamic organizations that survive and prosper under any circumstances.
Resilient enterprises continue to grow and evolve in order to meet the needs and expectations of their shareholders and stakeholders. They adapt successfully to turbulence by anticipating disruptive changes, recognizing new business opportunities, building strong relationships, and designing resilient assets, products, and processes. Written by one of the leading experts in enterprise resilience and sustainability, Resilient by Design offers a confident path forward in a world that is increasingly less certain.
This unique comparative study looks at efforts to regulate carcinogenic chemicals in several Western democracies, including the United States, and finds marked national differences in how conflicting scientific interpretations and competing political interests are resolved. Whether risk issues are referred to expert committees without public debate or debated openly in a variety of forums, patterns of interaction among experts, policy makers, and the public reflect fundamental features of each country's political culture. "A provocative argument....Poses interesting questions for the sociology of science, especially science produced for public debate."—Contemporary Sociology A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Frontiers Series
Risk and risk allocation have always been central issues in public utility regulation. Unfortunately, the term “risk” can easily be misrepresented and misinterpreted, especially when disconnected from long-standing principles of corporate finance.
This book provides those in the regulatory policy community with a basic theoretical and practical grounding in risk as it relates specifically to economic regulation in order to focus and elevate discourse about risk in the utility sector in the contemporary context of economic, technological, and regulatory change. This is not a “how-to” book with regard to calculating risks and returns but rather a resource that aims to improve understanding of the nature of risk. It draws from the fields of corporate finance, behavioral finance, and decision theory as well as the broader legal and economic theories that undergird institutional economics and the economic regulatory paradigm.
We exist in a world of scarce resources and abundant uncertainties, the combination of which can exacerbate and distort our sense of risk. Although there is understandable impulse to reduce risk, attempts to mitigate may be as likely to shift risk, and some measures might actually increase risk exposure. Many of the concepts explored here apply not just to financial decisions, such as those by utility investors, but also to regulatory and utility decision-making in general.
Classical economic theory assumes that people in risk situations follow a course of action based on a rational, consistent assessment of likely outcomes. But as Zur Shapira demonstrates in Risk Taking, corporate managers consistently stray from the prescribed path into far more subjective territory. Risk Taking offers a critical assessment of the relationship between theory and action in managerial decision making. Shapira offers a definitive account of the classical conception of risky decision making, which derives behavioral prescriptions from a calculation of both the value and the likelihood of possible outcomes. He then demonstrates how theories in this vein have been historically at odds with empirical observations. Risk Taking reports the results of an extensive survey of seven hundred managers that probed their attitudes and beliefs about risk and examined how they had actually made decisions in the face of uncertainty. The picture that emerges is of a dynamic, flexible process in which each manager's personal expertise and perceptions play profound roles. Managerial strategies are continually modified to suit changing circumstances. Rather than formulating probability estimates, executives create potential scenarios based not only on the possible outcomes but also on the many arbitrary factors inherent in their own situations. As Shapira notes, risk taking propensities vary among managers, and the need to maintain control and avoid particularly dangerous results exercises a powerful influence. Shapira also examines the impact of organizational structure, long-term management objectives, and incentives on decision making. With perceptive observations of the cognitive, emotional, and organizational dimensions of corporate decision making, Risk Taking propels the study of managerial risk behavior into new directions. This volume signals the way toward improving managerial decision making by revealing the need for more inclusive choice models that augment classical theory with vital behavioral observations.
While ecologists and environmentalists view the melting of the polar ice caps as a dire and threatening effect of climate change, many business and political leaders see emerging opportunity, as a result of newly accessible oil and gas fields. As the contributors to The Secure and the Dispossessed reveal, the ongoing environmental transitions raise a host of complicated questions about global assets and resources as well as dangerous opportunism.
The Secure and the Dispossessed gathers together essays by high-profile journalists, academics, and activists, including Christian Parenti, Nafeez Ahmed, and policy analyst Oscar Reyes. They offer a close and critical guide to questions about climate change, showing how they converge with questions about international security and global economic power, as new natural resources become available. This book is an essential guide to the key environmental and political debates which will shape future policies and elections: how managing the world’s supply of oil and gas can be squared with the environmental impact of our continued reliance on those very same fossil fuels.
In The Social Life of Financial Derivatives Edward LiPuma theorizes the profound social dimensions of derivatives markets and the processes, rituals, and belief systems that drive them. In response to the 2008 financial crisis and drawing on his experience trading derivatives, LiPuma outlines how they function as complex devices that organize speculative capital as well as the ways derivative-driven capitalism not only produces the conditions for its own existence, but also penetrates the fabric of everyday life. Framing finance as a form of social life and highlighting the intrinsically social character of financial derivatives, LiPuma deepens our understanding of derivatives so that we may someday use them to serve the public well-being.