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‘Bank Talk,’ Performativity And Financial Markets


  • Alissa G. Karl


This essay posits the ontology and tendencies of financial markets as akin to those of fiction -- as neither actual nor false, but (re)affirmed in each instance through re-citation and interpretation. To do this, the paper analyzes the generic development of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statements issued by the United States Federal Reserve since 1994 to understand the interpretive acts and the presumptions about markets that these statements iterate. The essay tracks how the diction, form, and circulation of FOMC statements cultivate the causal logic by which financial markets are purportedly organized, and also considers the iterability of the statement as a critique of that causal logic itself. In so doing, the essay appeals to the Butlerian version of performativity that is well known in the humanities and uses it to probe the methods and assumptions of the field of performative economics. This methodological intervention demonstrates the crucial insight into matters of citationality and iterability that Butlerian performativity affords, and implies much for an understanding of the ficitonality as well as the political standing of financial markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Alissa G. Karl, 2013. "‘Bank Talk,’ Performativity And Financial Markets," Journal of Cultural Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 63-77, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jculte:v:6:y:2013:i:1:p:63-77
    DOI: 10.1080/17530350.2012.745441

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Donald Mackenzie & Fabian Muniesa & Lucia Siu, 2007. "Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics," Post-Print halshs-00149145, HAL.
    2. John B. Carlson & Ben R. Craig & Patrick C. Higgins & William R. Melick, 2006. "FOMC communications and the predictability of near-term policy decisions," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jun.
    3. Donald MacKenzie & Fabian Muniesa & Lucia Siu, 2007. "Introduction to Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Donald MacKenzie & Fabian Muniesa & Lucia Siu (ed.),Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics, Princeton University Press.
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