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Drilling through the Allegheny mountains: liquidity, materiality and high-frequency trading

MacKenzie, Donald, Beunza, Daniel, Millo, Yuval and Pardo-Guerra, Juan Pablo (2012) Drilling through the Allegheny mountains: liquidity, materiality and high-frequency trading. Journal of Cultural Economy, 5 (3). pp. 279-296. ISSN 1753-0350

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Identification Number: 10.1080/17530350.2012.674963


In 1999, Carruthers and Stinchcombe provided the classic discussion of 'the social structure of liquidity': the institutional arrangements that support markets in which 'exchange occurs easily and frequently'. Our argument in this paper is that the material aspects of these arrangements - and particularly the materiality of prices - need far closer attention than they normally receive. We develop this argument by highlighting two features of new assemblages that have been created in financial markets since 1999. First, these assemblages give sharp economic significance to spatial location and to physical phenomena such as the speed of light (the physics of these assemblages is Einsteinian, not Newtonian, so to speak). Second, they have provoked fierce controversy focusing on ultra-fast 'high-frequency trading', controversy in which issues of materiality are interwoven intimately with questions of legitimacy, particularly of fairness.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2012 12:54
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 16:45

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