Worlds apart? The political economy of communication, information and institutional investor media usage in global financial markets

Thompson, P 2010, Worlds apart? The political economy of communication, information and institutional investor media usage in global financial markets, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communications, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Worlds apart? The political economy of communication, information and institutional investor media usage in global financial markets
Author(s) Thompson, P
Year 2010
Abstract The thesis critically analyses the role of communication and media systems in contemporary financial markets. New communication technologies have played a central role in the increased velocity, volume and scale of financial market activity since the 1970s. Theoretically, the research developed an analytical framework emphasising intersubjective codifications and reflexive communication processes. This was used to transcode political economic and cultural economic perspectives on financial investment and accumulation. The framework revised neo-Marxist accounts of contradictions in capital accumulation circuits and spatio-temporal fixes by integrating an account of the symbolic ontology of monetary forms and fictitious value. The framework also integrated the Minskian account of how feedback loops endogenous to the market generate financial instability by explaining the reflexive communicative processes involved. The notions of intersubjective codifications and communicative reflexivity were also used to conceptualise social systems boundaries, and to develop the argument that financial system autopoiesis could be operationalised in terms of investor sensitivity to self-referential signals generated by their own trading activity . Empirically, the research provided both a quantitative and qualitative account of how institutional investors prioritise and utilise different forms of media and information in their trading decisions. The study included surveys and interviews of traders and analysts at financial institutions operating in New Zealand and included observations of trading activity at Deutsche Bank, ANZ and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The data generated were used to empirically explore the proposition that communication processes are not merely representative, but constitutive of financial reality. The findings highlighted functional differences between publicly accessible media and professional institutional networks and between market information and reflexive, meta-information. Institutional channels were found to be vital for the validation of trading frames and discerning market flows. These findings of differential functions complicate several recent analyses of financial media that suggest they have a potentially powerful effect on investors. The findings confirmed that reflexive communication processes are constitutive role in shaping market reality and in the formation of fictitious capital values. The evidence of self-referential validation of trading frames suggested the neoclassical account of informational efficiency in market is not sustainable. Moreover, the evidence of communicative reflexivity supported the contention that the financial system has an autopoietic tendency. However, there was also evidence of the continuing significance of referent conditions in the industrial economy and policy. This showed that trading decisions were not based solely on self-referential noise precluded a radical claim of systemic closure. Nevertheless, the recent evidence of crises and the repercussions for governments and the lifeworld suggests that the global financial system’s imperative to expand and accelerate accumulation imposes significant risks/costs on other systems that are not subject to democratic accountability. Indeed, the findings also suggested that non-institutional investors relying of public media trade at a significant disadvantage, significantly undermining neoliberal claims that the increased availability of financial information systems and publicly-accessible trading platforms has facilitated financial democratisation.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communications
Keyword(s) political economy
cultural economy
financial markets
financial crisis
spatio-temporal fixes
fictitious capital
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Created: Thu, 14 Apr 2011, 14:42:05 EST by Guy Aron
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