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Liquidated: an Ethnography of Wall Street (09 Edition)by Karen Zouwen Ho
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Financial collapsesandmdash;whether of the junk bond market, the Internet bubble, or the highly leveraged housing marketandmdash;are often explained as the inevitable result of market cycles: What goes up must come down. In Liquidated, Karen Ho punctures the aura of the abstract, all-powerful market to show how financial markets, and particularly booms and busts, are constructed. Through an in-depth investigation into the everyday experiences and ideologies of Wall Street investment bankers, Ho describes how a financially dominant but highly unstable market system is understood, justified, and produced through the restructuring of corporations and the larger economy.
Ho, who worked at an investment bank herself, argues that bankersandrsquo; approaches to financial markets and corporate America are inseparable from the structures and strategies of their workplaces. Her ethnographic analysis of those workplaces is filled with the voices of stressed first-year associates, overworked and alienated analysts, undergraduates eager to be hired, and seasoned managing directors. Recruited from elite universities as andldquo;the best and the brightest,andrdquo; investment bankers are socialized into a world of high risk and high reward. They are paid handsomely, with the understanding that they may be let go at any time. Their workplace culture and networks of privilege create the perception that job insecurity builds character, and employee liquidity results in smart, efficient business. Based on this culture of liquidity and compensation practices tied to profligate deal-making, Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image. Their mission is the creation of shareholder value, but Ho demonstrates that their practices and assumptions often produce crises instead. By connecting the values and actions of investment bankers to the construction of markets and the restructuring of U.S. corporations, Liquidated reveals the particular culture of Wall Street often obscured by triumphalist readings of capitalist globalization.
"The timely question, 'What caused the current global financial crisis?' provokes answers usually aimed at the level of institutions and the more abstract 'market logic.' Ho's refreshing ethnography of the daily lives of Wall Street investment bankers takes another tack and outlines a web of practices, beliefs and structures that may be vital to understanding what keeps the market system in place despite built-in instabilities. Ho, a former business analyst and now an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, unpacks constant downsizing, high risk/high reward job liquidity, shortsighted compensation structures, prestige and the ruse of shareholder value. Her keen eye for the significance of space illuminates workplace narratives, e.g., segregating staff by floor, function and prestige; constant and lavish recruiting events at Princeton and Harvard; and anticlimactically tawdry office space for most workers. The author exposes how elite undergraduates are immersed in a culture promoting finance as the only legitimate job, how educational pedigrees reinforce the financial world's self-image — while the actual jobs remain rigidly hierarchical (stratifying women, people of color and non — Ivy League graduates), highly unstable and isolating, encouraging a culture in which making money is the only value." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
An ethnography of Wall Street, investment bankers and the cultural logics of finance.
Markets are artifacts of languageandmdash;so Douglas R. Holmes argues in this deeply researched look at central banks and the people who run them. Working at the intersection of anthropology, linguistics, and economics, he shows how central bankers have been engaging in communicative experiments that predate the financial crisis and continue to be refined amid its unfolding turmoilandmdash;experiments that do not merely describe the economy, but actually create its distinctive features.
Holmes examines the New York District Branch of the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, and the Bank of England, among others, and shows how officials there have created a new monetary regime that relies on collaboration with the public to achieve the ends of monetary policy. Central bankers, Holmes argues, have shifted the conceptual anchor of monetary affairs away from standards such as gold or fixed exchange rates and toward an evolving relationship with the public, one rooted in sentiments and expectations. Going behind closed doors to reveal the intellectual world of central banks,Economy of Wordsand#160;offers provocative new insights into the way our economic circumstances are conceptualized and ultimately managed.and#160;
About the Author
“Liquidated is what many of us have been waiting for: a serious ethnographic consideration of finance capital. Using the best kinds of cultural and social analysis, Karen Ho gets inside Wall Street assumptions, turning them around to upend each other.”—Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, co-editor of Word in Motion and author of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection
“We’re pretty familiar with the economic rationale for the regime of cost-cutting and downsizing throughout corporate America in recent decades. But Karen Ho’s research greatly enriches our understanding of how Wall Street’s own peculiar culture of transient relationships and relentless competition has contributed to the shareholder revolution. And, along the way, her interviews and fieldwork offer a very revealing picture of the mind of Wall Street. A fascinating and important book.”—Doug Henwood, editor of the Left Business Observer and author of Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom
“What could be more timely than this fascinating and highly readable investigation of the culture of Wall Street? With Liquidated, Karen Ho takes us into the workaday world of investment banking before the crisis, showing us the roots of the risk-taking that drew lavish compensation packages and brought the world financial system to the brink of collapse. A significant contribution both to the anthropological and wider social scientific literature on financial markets and globalization, as well as to the urgent public debate over the power of financial institutions in contemporary American society.”—Bill Maurer, author of Pious Property: Islamic Mortgages in the United States
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Creating a Monetary Regime
Chapter 2. Communicative Imperatives
Chapter 3. and#160;Markets Are a Function of Language
Chapter 4. Apprehensions
Chapter 5. Kultur
Chapter 6. Temporality
Chapter 7. Simulations
Chapter 8. Inflationary Tempest
Chapter 9. Liquidity-Trap Economics
Chapter 10. The Overheard Conversation
Chapter 11. Intelligence
Chapter 12. Representational Labor
Chapter 13. Manifesto for a Public Currency
Chapter 14. Totality of Promises
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