Why Would You Buy an Electric Car on Jetski Friday? Or, a Critique of Financial Markets from an Options Trading Room

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This article presents a close, dialogue-based ethnographic account of a group of contemporary options market makers making a decision about pricing options in Tesla, Inc. Careful attention to their deliberations reveals how the rise of algorithms and automation on financial markets have rendered traders alienated and estranged from the markets they work on for their livelihood. This alienation arises, in part, due to novel cascade effects between futures and underlying equities, which algorithmic and automated trading seems to afford, and which also relate to news events as well as the actions of politicians and prominent business people. Emerging from this alienation, traders produce a critique of how highly automated financial markets allocate capital and how ripe they are for political manipulation
Original languageEnglish
JournalFinance and Society
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)113-129
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Finance
  • Markets
  • Alienation
  • Options
  • Trading

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