Tag Archives: Nik-Khah

Algunas lecturas, SASE Newsletter

[Florencia Labiano me escribió hace un tiempo para preguntar si podía escribir algo para la sección “On the Bookshelf” de SASE Newsletter donde gente comenta sobre libros que están leyendo o que quieran recomendar. Acaba de salir acá https://sase.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SASE-Newsletter-Volume-IV-Issue-I-Winter-2019-2020.pdf. Abajo va lo que respondí. La Newletter viene además con contribuciones de Mariana Heredia y Mariana Luzzi]

Daniel Fridman, El sueño de vivir sin trabajar (Siglo XXI, 2019; previously published as Freedom from Work, Stanford University Press, 2016). This book is an ethnographic account of people in Argentina and the U.S. who followed a financial self-help program. The promise of the program was to convert those who participated (which means reading the books, playing board games, participating in the seminar) from dependent employees to autonomous investors. Theoretically, it is a story that contributes to the understanding of governmentality and performativity, but perhaps the book’s main accomplishment is Fridman’s own self-discipline as a storyteller. This is a book that respects and does not patronize the lived experience of self-converted neoliberals.

Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah, The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information (Oxford University Press, 2017). The authors trace a very important but often unnoticed transformation in recent economics. The market is not what it used to be. The key concept is information: the market is now understood as an information processor. Economists, however, do not have a shared understanding of what information is or does—what we have is different schools of information economics. What these schools share is that their market is very different to the market of neo-classical economics: here economic actors have only a partial and limited perspective, the key agency is not the entrepreneur but the market itself, and economists see themselves as market designers.

Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, Automating Finance (Cambridge University Press, 2019). There is a recent interest in what we could call the figure of the “market organizer.” This means that sociological analyses of markets are not only about entrepreneurs, consumers, or competition, but about those whose work it is to make markets work. Automating Finance, by Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, re-tells the history of the stock exchanges in London and New York from the perspective of the work of back-office engineers. What we get is a fresh version of automation and an account where the border between market and formal organization is almost indistinguishable.

Max Weber, Economy & Society (Harvard University Press, 2019). With a group of colleagues, I recently started a reading group of the new translation of Weber’s Economy & Society. For now, I can highly recommend the introductory text by the translator, Keith Tribe. Tribe’s text is like a book within the book. It is also an exemplar of academic effort and dedication, and, perhaps, one the best available introductions to Weber’s work.

Caitlin Zaloom, Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost (Princeton University Press, 2019). Finally, I am halfway through Caitlin Zaloom’s Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost. The object of the book is what Zaloom calls the “financial student complex”: the multilayered system developed around student loans in the U.S. The book uses an ethnographic sensibility to construct a public intervention that both opens up the black box of the complicated financial student complex and makes the reader feels the existential situation of those affected by this quite mad approach to helping students.

E&S special issue: Markets for collective concerns and their failures

[Luego de varios años de trabajo, finalmente acaba de salir el número especial en Economy & Society editado por Christian Frankel, José Ossandón y Trine Pallesen. El título del número es “Markets for Collective Concerns and their failures”. ‘Markets for collective concerns’ son mercados que han sido construidos como instrumentos de políticas públicas, mercados de los que se espera solucionen problemas colectivos. Los artículos estudian cómo las fallas de estos mercados, en vez de gatillar una búsqueda por otro tipo de instrumento, han permitido el surgimiento de un nuevo tipo de experto que reclama conocer cómo hacer que mercados que no funcionan funcionen. El gobierno de problemas públicos deviene evaluación, reparación y diseño de mercados. Para los interesados, free e-prints de la introducción acá y del artículo de Ossandón y Ureta acá] 

Publication Cover

The organization of markets for collective concerns and their failures

Christian Frankel, José Ossandón & Trine Pallesen

Problematizing markets: market failures and the government of collective concerns

José Ossandón & Sebastián Ureta

Making an exception: market design and the politics of re-regulation in the French electricity sector

Thomas Reverdy & Daniel Breslau

Carving out a domain for the market: boundary making in European environmental markets

Liliana Doganova & Brice Laurent

On the difficulties of addressing collective concerns through markets: from market devices to accountability devices

Daniel Neyland, Véra Ehrenstein & Sveta Milyaeva

On going the market one better: economic market design and the contradictions of building markets for public purposes

Edward Nik-Khah & Philip Mirowski

The concept of market (Part 2)

[El nombre de esta sección es “artículos en cuotas”. La idea es, como en una novela por entregas, ir subiendo partes de papers a medida que vayan saliendo. El texto abajo es un borrador de un artículo en el que trabajo. Presenté la primera versión en EGOS este año y esto que estoy subiendo acá es una segunda versión, pero aun, borrador y sin edición del inglés. Además de la introducción, el artículo se compondrá de cuatro secciones. Cada parte será una entrega que iré subiendo a medida que tenga las nuevas versiones listas. El texto abajo es la segunda entrega y la primera sección del artículo (ver acá la entrega anterior, la introducción). Como siempre, sugerencias son muy bienvenidas]

The concept of Market

José Ossandón, draft 4/12/2017

Concepts of markets after market design

The following extract is taken from a talk given by the winner of the 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel and renowned market designer Alvin Roth:

‘So, first of all think about market design, because market design is an ancient human activity. But because markets are so pervasive we think them a little bit like language. Languages and markets are both human artifacts. But we don’t think of language as something we can change, but as something we get. I speak to you in English and I have to speak in the same kind of English that you speak, otherwise it wouldn’t work. Often we think of markets on that way too: markets just happen. But, of course, markets are human artifacts and market design is that engineering part of microeconomics, that part that fixes markets when they are broken or make new ones sometimes.’ [i]

Roth presents a constructivist approach. He emphasizes that markets are both, like language, a social product, and like other artifacts, the outcome of purposely applied technical knowledge. This description would easily fit recent sociological accounts of markets; but, it would appear as strange in the context of traditional conceptualizations of markets in economics.

A dominant position in the economic sciences of the second half of the 20th century conceived markets in opposition to organization. While organizations were associated to features such as planning, hierarchy, or centralized decision making; markets were seen as decentralized, spontaneous and even inherently non-designable entities. Continue reading