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The politics of financial market regulation: the case of speculative instruments


This research proposal deals with the regulation of those financial strategies and vehicles that are generally defined as'instruments of speculation' and looks at the wider societal implications of their activities. The following instruments will beconside red: hedge funds, short selling, single-stock futures and put options. The research will draw upon the work that theFellow has already initiated on hedge funds and will expand its scope by including other vehicles that are the economicequivalent of hedge f unds. The assumptions of the project are that (1) these are instruments or strategies by which marketplayers can elude regulatory restrictions and escape the costs of financial speculation and that (2) this elusion has increasinglyoccurred with the more or less implicit blessing of regulatory authorities. The fact that these instruments are increasinglyspreading throughout the investment community and are progressively more adopted by banks, mutual, pension funds, andinsurance companies makes their analysis all the more imperative.More precisely, there are wider societal reasons to pursue this investigation: first, these instruments can have a destabilisingimpact on financial markets; second, they can have real-economy consequences; and, third, they affect t he distribution of wealthacross society and can redistribute losses and gains from financial activity in favour of the most affluent part of the population.This project argues that an analysis of these factors can only be conducted by expanding the current framework within whichdiscussions of financial regulation take place, and in particular by moving beyond an exclusive preoccupation for efficiency andperformance. Against this background, the research aims at elaborating criteria for the discussion and as sessment of regulatoryproposals that respond to principles such as equality, distributive justice, market rights, and democratic accountability in themarket #'

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