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Capturing Finance: Arbitrage and Social Domination

Capturing Finance: Arbitrage and Social Domination

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Publication Date: August 13th, 2021
Duke University Press
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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.

About the Author

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