Financialisation and Derivatives: Constructing an Artifice of Indifference

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This paper accords derivatives a central role in defining the character and dynamics offinancialised accumulation. Under the guise of financial precision and a progressiveinnovation spiral, financial derivatives have instrumentalised risk so that ownership andproperty take a novel form. The advent of limited liability and absentee ownership in thesecond half of the nineteenth century marked the start of this process of transformation. Atthat stage, ownership became fleeting and its relationship to the underlying technical processuncertain, loose and complex. Risk management through derivatives takes this a stagefurther. Derivatives imply that ownership can take a form wherein there are no direct ties toa particular asset, and therefore no possibility of a conceptual link between property andstewardship. Instead, ownership proceeds on the basis of disengagement andfinancialisation proceeds via the construction of indifference to the exigencies of ‘real’economic competition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCompetition & Change
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)157-172
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Derivatives
  • Financialisation
  • Risk
  • Property

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