Between arbitrage and speculation: An economy of belief and doubt

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36 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recent debate concerning the 'sociology of arbitrage' has firmly established arbitrage as a category of theoretical significance in the social studies of finance. In this article, I seek to complicate this debate by drawing attention to a particular kind of ambiguity inherent in the category of arbitrage, as it is put to use in financial markets. I present certain Japanese arbitrageurs' reflections on the difference between arbitrage and speculation and examine the interplay of belief and doubt underlying arbitrage operations. I argue that the resulting ambivalence towards the category of arbitrage is a marker of arbitrageurs' particular epistemological stance, identity and ethical commitment. Finally, I consider the implications of arbitrage's ambiguity for the dominant trope of speculation in the critical study of financial markets more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-415
Number of pages20
JournalEconomy and Society
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

Keywords

  • Ambiguity
  • Arbitrage
  • Faith
  • Financial markets
  • Japan
  • Speculation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Social Sciences(all)

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