Communicative Reflexivity and Financial Bubbles: Linking Minsky to Marx – Peter Thompson, Victoria University of Wellington

Tuesday 2 April, 2019, 3pm – 4.30pm

Seminar Room 203, RD Watt Building, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

The aim of this paper is to outline a communicative framework for understanding the reflexive, constitutive role of financial information in the generation and annihilation of financial bubbles. In contrast to the neoclassical economic notion of efficient markets which implicitly assume that information is representative of fundamental market conditions, the approach here highlights the reflexive, constitutive role of information in shaping market reality. This approach emphasizes the potential for financial feedback loops between financial actors and media to endogenously (and performatively) shape market expectations and the symbolic ontology of fictitious asset values.

This analysis is then linked to Hyman Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH) which identified the central role of credit expansion and leverage in driving cycles of endogenous asset price inflation and collapse. The value of linking Minsky’s FIH to communicative processes is twofold: a) it provides the basis for a more complete analysis of how financial investors respond to the market signals their own activities generate (e.g. asset price inflation leading to discounted risk and cheaper credit) and b) by foregrounding the symbolic processes underpinning trading activity and the generation (and annihilation) financial asset values, it provides a link between the FIH to a revised Marxist account of finance capital’s crisis tendency.

Peter Thompson is a senior lecturer in Victoria University of Wellington’s media studies programme. Primarily, a political economist, his research interests include communication processes in financial markets as well as analyses of media policy. Peter is a founding co-editor of the Political Economy of Communication journal and is currently vice-chair of the IAMCR political economy section. He is also chair of the Better Public Media trust which campaigns for public interest media policy in New Zealand.