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Virtue, Fortune, and Faith: A Genealogy of Finance

Series: Borderlines
Volume: 24
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    Virtue, Fortune, and Faith
    Book Description:

    A cultural history of financial markets from the early eighteenth century to the present day, Virtue, Fortune, and Faith offers a reading of the historical insecurities, debates, and controversies that were purged from nascent credit practices in order to produce the image of today's global financial sphere. Marieke de Goede questions assumptions about international finance's unchallenged position and exposes its ambiguous scientific authority.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9634-5
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Money and Representation
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)

    In November 1987 American artist J. S. G. Boggs was ordered to appear before London’s Central Criminal Court (also known as the Old Bailey) to face charges brought against him by the Bank of England under the 1981 Forgery and Counterfeiting Act. Boggs was charged with neither forgery nor counterfeiting but with reproducing British banknotes without consent of the Bank of England. Although the artist had attempted to obtain written permission from the bank to produce artistic images freely based on the design of the British currency on two occasions, permission had been denied. This denial was affirmed even after...

  5. 1 A Genealogy of Finance
    (pp. 1-20)

    In the same week in May/June 2000 , two international reports statistically assessing Western societies, including Britain, were published. The first report was published by the United Nation’s children’s fund, UNICEF, and presents a comprehensive study of children’s health, wealth, opportunities, and education in twenty-three industrialized countries (all belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]). UNICEF’s conclusions for Britain are devastating: Britain is among four industrialized countries in which child poverty is most common, with 19.9 percent of British children currently living below the poverty line, suffering poor education, insufficient housing, and bad health. Almost half of...

  6. 2 Mastering Lady Credit
    (pp. 21-46)

    I have argued that the representation of financial history as a legend, in which the use of shells, the minting of coin, the invention of paper money, and the creation of credit are seen as logical subsequent steps in monetary evolution, abstracts modern financial instruments from their political, and often violent, histories. Instead, it has to be recognized that the history of modern credit practices is inextricably bound up with the violent histories of European state formation, colonial conquest, and slave trading. Susan Strange has argued that the international economy as we now understand it consists of the unique combination...

  7. 3 Finance, Gambling, and Speculation
    (pp. 47-86)

    In April 1998 a Moscow Court declared certain financial instruments in breach of Russian antigambling laws. The court argued that a certain type of derivative, called a “nondeliverable forward contract,” was best viewed as a betting contract as it did not lead to any exchange of underlying assets and was therefore not enforceable under the Russian Civil Code. Afraid that this court decision would deter foreign investors, the Russian Central Bank hurried to defend derivatives trading to Russia’s supreme arbitration court. The Central Bank argued that forward contracts were a legitimate part of the banking system and made it known...

  8. 4 The Dow Jones Average and the Birth of the Financial Market
    (pp. 87-120)

    In DeLillo’s novelUnderworld,this dialogue takes place between a white Italian American from the Bronx and a black American from St. Louis, Missouri. Although both men are in their forties and have well-paid corporate jobs, the differences in their backgrounds become forcefully apparent when it seems impossible for the Italian American to understand how the taking of the census can be experienced as a threatening and intruding force by the black family. In fact, the history of census taking in the United States demonstrates the political power of population counting and justifies the black mother’s apprehension toward the census...

  9. 5 Regulation and Risk in Contemporary Markets
    (pp. 121-144)

    As I have argued, the political contestations surrounding the boundary between finance and gambling, the morality of speculation, and the meaning of the free market lasted well into the twentieth century. Although the argument that speculation was an intelligent, responsible, and professional practice was established by the turn of the century, the 1929 stock market crash caused a resurgence of critique of the financial sphere. For example, the U.S. political magazineAtlantic Monthlyregularly published critiques of speculation and the stock market in 1930 and 1931 and called for reform of the financial system. In a 1931 issue, Samuel Spring...

  10. 6 Repoliticizing Financial Practices
    (pp. 145-176)

    The purpose of this final chapter is to discuss how resisting a linear and frictionless history of finance opens up possibilities for political dissent and alternatively imagined financial futures. I have argued that financial practices exist as exclusionary discourses—which, historically and continually, exclude that which is deemed external to the financial domain. Thus it has become possible, as discussed in chapter 1, to formulate authoritative measures of economic well-being that praise Britain for its economic efficiency while one in five British children live in poverty. William Connolly points to the wider implications of such exclusionary practices for the conditions...

  11. Conclusion: Objectivity and Irony in the Dot-Com Bubble
    (pp. 177-184)

    In the midst of current controversies, triggered by the end of the socalled dot-com boom, the collapse of Enron, and the U.S. analysts scandal, the legitimacy of financial practices is to be rescued again with appeals to objectivity and disinterestedness. At first glance, Eliot Spitzer, the New York Attorney General who has cast himself as the champion of the rights of small investors and who has conducted high-profile investigations into the work of the stock analysts of large investment banks, seems like an unlikely ally for Wall Street. For example, Spitzer’s investigation into Merrill Lynch found that the firm’s “supposedly...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 185-196)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-228)
  14. Index
    (pp. 229-235)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 236-236)