Markets without subjects: Nasdaq and the financial interface

Spring 2016

This article is a re-evaluation of recent discourses around financial subjectivity and debt, popularised in the wake of the 2008 crash, from the perspective of critical media studies. Through an examination of the history and development of the Nasdaq market - the world’s first electronic stock exchange which came to serve as the engine for the ‘New Economy’ and the dot-com boom of the 1990s - this paper complicates recent theoretical conversations around the way that financial capitalism shapes political subjects in the neoliberal era in order to take into account the machinic and pre-individual operations of financial markets and the computational infrastructures that undergird them. It argues that the Nasdaq offers insight into the unfolding of a unique socio-technical apparatus that defines contemporary capitalism, one not adequately accounted for in either the popular or scholarly discourse on finance written since the crash. Paying particular attention to the role of the Nasdaq in producing the myths of the New Economy, this paper examines how the Nasdaq model was instrumental in an attempt to resolve the contradictions of neoliberal capitalism. It argues that the Nasdaq marks a crucial moment in the integration of financial markets and new mechanisms of control in contemporary capitalism that work on the dividual, always rendered in a subjugated and reactive position to the flow of automated financial information.

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New Formations 88: Markets and Machines