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Book Launch

Book Launch | Derivatives and the Wealth of Societies

11/18 Friday | 1pm

The Cultures of Finance working group at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join us for the launch event for Derivatives and the Wealth of Societies, out now from the University of Chicago Press. Editor Ben Lee and contributors contributors Robert Wosnitzer, Robert Meister, Emanuel Derman, and Edward LiPuma, will engage with discussants Carey Hardin and Peter Dimock.

Derivatives were responsible for one of the worst financial meltdowns we have ever seen, one from which we have not yet fully recovered. However, they are likewise capable of generating some of the most incredible wealth we have ever seen. This book asks how we might ensure the latter while avoiding the former. Looking past the usual arguments for the regulation or abolition of derivative finance, it asks a more probing question: what kinds of social institutions and policies would we need to put in place to both avail ourselves of the derivative’s wealth production and make sure that production benefits all of us?


“Derivatives have been a transformative financial innovation but have multiplied risks and complexities. Lee and Martin make an important contribution tracing the history of derivatives, how they work, and why they are important beyond technical finance.”
– Craig Calhoun, Director, Berggruen Institute

“The idea that financial derivatives can be used to reveal new ways of framing social wealth and struggles over the distribution of that wealth is as inspired as it will be controversial. This collection of exceptional scholars from diverse disciplines may well be turning the study of finance and social change on its head.”
– Dick Bryan, coauthor of Capitalism with Derivatives

“A very ambitious effort to not only understand the derivative logic of financial markets through concepts of anthropology, sociology, and philosophy but also to understand the social through the logic of the derivative. It stands out not only as a truly interdisciplinary engagement with finance but also as a reversal through which derivative logic itself is used as a theory reflecting back on the social, which allows the authors to arrive at new and curious insights into their ‘native’ disciplines. The book strikes a rare balance as a critical engagement with finance and derivatives while at the same time not simply dismissing these as just another element of ‘evil capitalism.’”
– Ole Bjerg, author of Making Money and Parallax of Growth

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