A Cultural Construction of Brazilian Sovereign Credit Risk: Between Spell, Perversion and Diligence

Friday, June 24, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
205 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Ana Carolina Bichoffe, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil
In the contemporary world, the public debt securities market assumes a singular dimension: it becomes able to affect strongly the management practices and debt financing costs governments, states and federal entities have to face. The proposition sustained in this work is that manifestation of the sovereign credit risk, by which States are assessed, is historically and culturally situated. The establishment of the sovereign notion of risk depends on the significance of possibilities given by different cultural perspectives in competition, where the symbolic effects of the ratings produced by Credit ratings agencies have been shown as an efficient symbolic artifact, transcending the need for acute regulatory action or economic sanctions from other nations and multilateral institutions. At the same time, and enhancing the condition of the rankings, the notions of control and accounting transparency gains ground. Both concepts are linked to corporate governance idea - native tools of the financial area that become linked to treasury bills market – and another fundamental dimension of the states: financial statistics. By posting this data - earlier restricted to experts and bureaucrats analysis - new perspectives and competing interpretations bring up different debates. Specifically, in the Brazilian case, the analysis of these new discursive repertoires, of the ways of management and risk control, reveals interesting dimensions and tensions between government’s and market’s agents, who face the prevailing orthodox model of risk management. If, in a recent past of Brazilian economic and financial policy, the discussion about financial management and the financial risk of sovereign debt did not even exist, it is important to understand how this new cultural repertoire arrived in Brazil and [re]signified itself in the local context. The assimilation, still in process, of this logic inside the Brazilian state sphere is a consequence of the entry of new groups in the dispute, using narrative as a resource, and the entry of other groups, whose main product is the dispute over political and cultural positions. So, beyond the dispute over the narrative of credit risk, a framework is built to provide emergence and institutionalization of this bond market - from the historical reconstruction, to scientific and therefore cultural approaches of risk governance and statistics. During this path, different sources and evidence are presented - categories and explanations already mineralized, and therefore incorporated in the social ethos – in order to understand the demonstrations least noted that compose the dispute over the rhetoric of risk. Thus, research offers the reader a way to reflect upon how this market has become a key institution for contemporary states.