Behind the scenes of the ‘financial markets’
11/18/11

Geoffrey Geuens objective is not to checklist a few isolated cases which are the exception to the rule, but to demonstrate a literally systematic logic. The examples he cites are in no way based on rumour, nothing of the sort. All the data he uses is in the public domain. It just remained for him to discover from where he could flush them out: on company websites, in businesses annual reports, the archives, etc.

And the media in all this?

Lastly, in the third and final section of his book, the researcher attempts to bring the first two chapters together in order to examine from every angle the work of rhetorical legitimisation and political communication undertaken during the financial crisis. ‘The discourse of power often takes the form of universality. It has become something natural and that brings about effects of great symbolic violence,’ he observes.

In addition he also interrogates the sociological mechanisms which are unconsciously put in place and which encourage the people in positions of power to be convinced of the legitimacy of their role. He also investigates the attitude of the media. The manner in which the latter prove to be ‘dependent on official sources’ in systematically calling upon the same ‘experts who are themselves situated on the border of the academic world, the world of high public office and that of high finance.’ As is the case for Bruno Colmant (to cite but one Belgian example out of so many others), who was successively the finance director of ING Belgium, principal private secretary to the Minister of Finance Didier Reynders, the chief executive officer of the Brussels stock exchange and then of AGEAS (ex-Fortis Holding).  Connected to several prestigious academic institutions (UCL, Solvay Business School, etc.) and, as such, possessing significant symbolic capital, he is also an administrator for the ALCOPA and BREDERODE companies. Crash bourseIn other words he has held a series of key posts in the world of business which are much less frequently mentioned by the media when they call on his expertise.

To go back to the advisory committees and other governmental task forces, three years after the crisis, they have all presented pretty similar measures. Risk free and cost free tinkering solutions which up until now have not borne fruit. And as for the conventional denunciations of the ‘excesses’ of finance capitalism – as scathing as they are harmless – they have already given way to the pedagogy of austerity, points out Geoffrey Geuens.

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