More THAN a Econometric Reason: The Simbolic Domination of Financial Risk

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
88 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Ana Carolina Bichoffe, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil
The present purpose is the demonstration of the cultural construction of the ‘scholastic point of view’ of financial risk. It has emerged as a modern concept, produced in specific historical and cultural contexts – and has acquired a new meaning when aligned with probability and statistical dimensions. Studying risk has become a scientific activity and the expression of a contemporary intellectual culture. Throughout all the twentieth century, academics, governments and hundreds of international pressure groups signaled the need to identify and manage risk – by means of the perspective of environmental issues, material shortages, diseases and wars - greatly due the advance of industrial societies. In the field of finance such process occurred in a similar way, with efforts undertaken by part of the scientific community, especially among economists, statisticians, mathematicians and actuaries, to establish a field of specialized studies in the improvement of control methods and risk measurement of financial institutions. It is almost a consensus that the notion of risk represents the probability of not getting the expected return on an investment. In other words, the greater the amplitude of the deviation, the greater the required result to offset the risk assumed. In this explanatory key, the negotiation of the sovereign spread implies that market is quantifying the credit risk of this country and, thus, offering expectations about the future path of the country's payment capability measured by its economic fundamentals.  A great portion of these scientific productions, especially after the recent economic and financial crisis, have undertaken efforts towards control and prevention of the exposures beyond “stablished standards” that endanger the continuity of institutions and markets.  Precisely, by means of collected evidence, we aim to show how a predefined polissemic term, filtered by this specific scholastic point of view, becomes a legitimate language of authority and propagates itself – by means of incorporation in courses and business schools, further dissemination through handbooks and manuals, and transformation in tool kits sold by consulting firms. Another important dimension are ratings agencies. The exercise of historicization offers conditions to rebuild arrangements, bodies of expertise and speeches rating agencies have appropriated and used in dialogues to establish themselves as legitimate institutions in specific locations and temporalities. Which, therefore,  subordinate them to a reflective survey that will help us understand the mystification process in which they were involved, thus becoming holders of "truth records" of contemporary financial markets. This passage allows us to reflect how the Rating Agencies, with USA Government support, established this new instrumental writing - the objectification and measurement of perceptions and evaluations summarized in a defined set of signs - resulting in the creation of a new form of transmission and communication about risk. The potential of this union extends beyond a globally shared understanding parameter in the financial sphere, i. e., it emerges as a new discourse of authority with capillary and influence that increases the sensibility of societies, and fundamentally appropriates and merges itself into the surveillance and control spheres of States and Governments.