Seminar: “Why Hasn’t High-Frequency Trading Swept the Board?” (Sciences Po, France)

Seminar: “Why Hasn’t High-Frequency Trading Swept the Board? Shares, Sovereign Bonds and the Politics of Market Structure” (Sciences Po, France)

In today’s trading of liquid financial instruments, there are two main contending agencements (in Callon’s ‘actor-network’ sense of combinations of humans and nonhuman elements that manifest distributed agency): one agencement yokes together automated high-frequency trading (HFT) and open, anonymous electronic order books; the other is organized above all around the distinction between ‘dealers’ and ‘clients’. This talk, which will draw upon interviews with 316 market participants (encompassing all the main classes of highly liquid financial instrument, and both Europe and the US), will discuss differences in the relative presence of the two agencements.

The talk will examine in particular the processes that have given rise to especially sharp differences between the trading of shares and of sovereign bonds, and between the trading of the latter in the US and Europe. Donald MacKenzie will conclude that the sociological literature on trading (especially on HFT) needs expanded to encompass what can be called ‘the politics of market structure’, and, more generally, needs to pay far greater attention to the state and its agencies; symmetrically, there is a need for a stronger focus in political economy on materiality.

Donald MacKenzie’s talk will be based on a paper written jointly with Iain Hardie, Charlotte Rommerskirchen and Arjen van der Heide.

Date: Friday, September 6

Location: Sciences Po, Room Jean Monnet, 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris

Speaker: Donald MacKenzie, University of Edinburgh

Read more about this event here.