Valeur financière et vérité

Valeur financière et vérité

Enquête d'anthropologie politique sur l'évaluation des entreprises cotées en bourse
Horacio Ortiz
The Truth behind Financial value
A study in political anthropology on the valuations of publicly listed companies

The financial industry plays an increasingly key role in all economic activities, and yet its actors and procedures remain poorly understood by the public. As an anthropologist, Ortiz thus dove into the world of analysts and fund managers and completed three, several month-long stints in a brokerage firm, in a hedge fund advisory and a multinational third-party fund management company in France and in the United States before the subprime crisis.

In the name of market efficiency, the financial industry determines the value of companies listed on the stock exchange using a standardised methodology of neo-liberal leaning that is backed by existing financial regulations. The value of companies thus becomes a 'truth' established by finance experts, making the latter the arbiters of the distribution of monetary resources on a global scale and consequently, of social justice.

The author immersed himself in the world of finance during several years, working as an analyst in financial companies in Paris and New York. His perspective on the practices and daily experiences of brokers, traders and other fund managers — at times depicted rather bluntly — demonstrates just to what extent the 'truth of the value' that they determine is problematic. In reality quite far removed from the liberal utopia to which they allude, these 'true values' are the product of many contradictory injunctions and procedures, monitored by workers who work both in competition and symbiosis, both as individuals and as company representatives.

Horacio Ortiz is a researcher at the Centre de sociologie de l’innovation, MINES ParisTech. He holds a degree from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales(EHESS), the New School for Social Research, and Sciences Po. He is currently studying the world of finance in China.