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The Penn Press list for spring 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Financial Markets in the Capitalist Process

Douglas Vickers

192 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512808339 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

The preoccupation of financial theory with static, timeless, equilibrium analysis has given rise to an orthodoxy that avoids the problems of uncertainty in the world. This work establishes new perspectives from which contemporary financial theory can be evaluated. Echoing Keynes' observation that "Human decisions . . . cannot depend on strict mathematical expectation," Douglas Vickers explains why most decisions in economics and finance are not made under conditions to which the calculus of probability applies.

The author proposes a "new realism" in financial theory that takes into account the uncertainty in personal and economic decisions. Both business firms and financial investors, he contends, acquire an important perspective on their alternatives by focusing on the transitional, disequilibrium processes in financial markets rather than on their sup­ posed equilibrium conditions. This involves for economic decisions an understanding of "time" as "historic" in a genuine operational sense rather than as merely a logical variable. The notion of probability should be replaced by that of possibility, the concept that the British economist G. L. S. Shackle has called "potential surprise."

In Part I, Vickers' innovative approach leads to a careful study of the "false trading" that occurs in real and financial markets. Part II provides an exposition and an evaluation of the equilibrium theory of financial asset prices. The new analytical apparatus is applied in Part Ill to investment decision making in the firm and to the choice of financial asset portfolios, as well as to the questions of asset trading and changes in portfolio composition.

A scholarly and constructive work, Financial Markets in the Capitalist Process will generate controversy among professionals and debate among students for many years to come.

Douglas Vickers was Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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