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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

How Do Markets Believe? Judging Predictions in Sociotechnical Markets

David Pinzur


 
Markets require credible projections of the future in order to value and exchange goods. But how do the sociotechnical features of markets shape which forecasts they deem credible? The project investigates this question, using an instance of extraordinary dis-consensus as a case study. In 1899–1900, two prominent organizations made vastly different estimates of the impending global cotton harvest. Not only did these conflicting estimates persist throughout the growing season, but the world’s leading markets – New York, Liverpool, and New Orleans – disagreed, despite their close economic ties, over whose figures they believed. Why could they not agree? How did features of these markets – not only their networks, institutions, and cultures, but also their material infrastructures, protocols, and calculative tools – articulate with the discourses and techniques of the forecasting organizations? How did these same features become nodes of, or obstacles to, systemic change in the judgment of crop predictions in the years following the conflict? By investigating these questions, this research will develop a theoretical perspective on markets, not merely as recipients, but as sociotechnical mediators of economic predictions. Project duration: October 2018 to September 2020.
 

 
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