Capturing Finance

Arbitrage and Social Domination

Capturing Finance

Book Pages: 176 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: August 2021

Author: Carolyn Hardin

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

Arbitrage—the trading practice that involves buying assets in one market at a cheap price and immediately selling them in another market for a profit—is fundamental to the practice of financial trading and economic understandings of how financial markets function. Because traders complete transactions quickly and use other people's money, arbitrage is considered to be riskless. Yet, despite the rhetoric of riskless trading, the arbitrage in mortgage-backed securities led to the 2008 financial crisis. In Capturing Finance Carolyn Hardin offers a new way of understanding arbitrage as a means for capturing value in financial capitalism. She shows how arbitrage relies on a system of abstract domination built around risk. The commonsense beliefs that taking on debt is necessary for affording everyday life and that investing is necessary to secure retirement income compel individuals to assume risk while financial institutions amass profits. Hardin insists that mitigating financial capitalism's worst consequences, such as perpetuating class and racial inequities, requires challenging the narratives that naturalize risk as a necessary element of financial capitalism as well as social life writ large.


“In this compelling work, Carolyn Hardin zeroes in on the founding paradox of modern finance—arbitrage or the possibility of risk-free gain—to illuminate the system of abstract capture in which we live. A bold new voice, Hardin updates the critique of capitalism for a financial age and proposes a new politics of risk-based solidarity for our times.” — Melinda Cooper, author of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism

“This brilliant and beautifully written book sets a new standard for the social study of finance by exposing the paradox that arbitrage, the most frequent evil in the theory of finance, is the most reliable producer of financial profits in financial markets. This is a book for all scholars, both within and outside business schools, who want to find alternatives to the hegemony of finance in our everyday lives.” — Arjun Appadurai, Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Carolyn Hardin is Assistant Professor of Media and Culture and American Studies at Miami University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. Into the Lion's Den  1
1. Capitalism as Capture  11
2. Arbitrage in Theory  33
3. Arbitrage IRL  49
4. The Postonian Turn  68
5. Money Machines  87
6. The Emperor's New Clothes  105
Conclusion. A Politics of Risk  120
Notes  131
References  143
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1429-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1338-9