In the wake of the global financial crisis that broke out ten years ago, the otherwise discreet and arcane world of banking and investment has been subject to intense public interest. The crisis suddenly made it clear that the new order of the financial sector – with its plethora of shrewd products and complex digital technologies – had immense and immediate consequences for the lives of ordinary citizens. One token of this new interest is the advent of what is becoming recognizable as a new genre: Finance fiction. Novels and documentary accounts alike, as well as numerous films and series, have concurred in trying to describe and understand the working of present-day financial activity and its influence on the way we live now.
This project explores how such fictional accounts contribute to our knowledge about finance and particularly about the reverberations of finance in culture and society at large. Fiction, we argue, is an instrument to convey images of the experiences, moods and mindsets of its time: it offers society an image of itself. Looking specifically at finance fiction in its literary, cinematographic and artistic forms, the project is designed to systematically gauge how finance fiction represents both the world of finance in all its professional, social and technological complexity and the ways in which finance increasingly impacts our lives.
Financialization, thus, works at two specific levels, pertaining to what we propose to call, respectively, the culture of financialization and the financialization of culture. On the one hand, it is about how money is made in an era of hypertrophied speculation through transformation of assets into still more convoluted financial instruments, and on the other, about how the rationales of this economy spill over and seep into our lives as we come to think of ourselves, our futures and the social institutions we uphold as assets that should be managed with an eye to their optimal monetization.