Triple Launch - Rated Agency, Capital & Time, The Time of Money - Monday 15th April

Michel Feher, Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age

The hegemony of finance compels a new orientation for everyone and everything: companies care more about the moods of their shareholders than about longstanding commercial success; governments subordinate citizen welfare to appeasing creditors; and individuals are concerned less with immediate income from labor than appreciation of their capital goods, skills, connections, and reputations.

That firms, states, and people depend more on their ratings than on the product of their activities also changes how capitalism is resisted. For activists, the focus of grievances shifts from the extraction of profit to the conditions under which financial institutions allocate credit. While the exploitation of employees by their employers has hardly been curbed, the power of investors to select investees — to decide who and what is deemed creditworthy — has become a new site of social struggle.

In clear and compelling prose, Michel Feher explains the extraordinary shift in conduct and orientation generated by financialization. Above all, he articulates the new political resistances and aspirations that investees draw from their rated agency.

Martijn Konings, Capital and Time


Critics of capitalist finance tend to focus on its speculative character. Our financial markets, they lament, encourage irresponsible bets on the future that reflect no real underlying value. Why is it, then, that opportunities for speculative investment continue to proliferate in the wake of major economic crises? To make sense of this, Capital and Time advances an understanding of economy as a process whereby patterns of order emerge out of the interaction of speculative investments.

Progressive critics have assumed that the state occupies a neutral, external position from which it can step in to constrain speculative behaviors. On the contrary, Martijn Konings argues, the state has always been deeply implicated in the speculative dynamics of economic life. Through these insights, he offers a new interpretation of both the economic problems that emerged during the 1970s and the way that neoliberalism responded to them. Neoliberalism's strength derives from its intuition that there is no position that transcends the secular logic of risk, and from its insistence that individuals actively engage that logic. Not only is the critique of speculation misleading as a general approach; it is also incapable of recognizing how American capitalism has come to embrace speculation and has thus been able to generate new kinds of order and governance.

Lisa Adkins, The Time of Money

Speculation is often associated with financial practices, but The Time of Money makes the case that it not be restricted to the financial sphere. It argues that the expansion of finance has created a distinctive social world, one that demands a speculative stance toward life in general. Replacing a logic of extraction, speculation changes our relationship to time and organizes our social worlds to maximize the productive capacities of populations around flows of money for finance capital. Speculative practices have become a matter of survival, and defining features of our age are hardwired to their operations—stagnant wages, indebtedness, the centrality of women's earnings to the household, workfarism, and more. Examining five features of our contemporary economy, Lisa Adkins reveals the operations of this speculative rationality. Moving beyond claims that indebtedness is intrinsic to contemporary life and vague declarations that the social world has become financialized, Adkins delivers a precise examination of the relation between finance and society, one that is rich in empirical and analytical detail.

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Date and time: Monday 15th April, 6pm for 6.30pm

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