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This analysis offers some answers to the three questions about financial market bubbles posed earlier. It is because they have become part of a Basic assumption group operating with a PS sense of reality and so able to share a feeling that phantastic objects are actually real. Third, it helps explain why anger and blame rather than guilt erupt in the aftermath of these events.

A D state of mind is not reached out of panic and compliance; it requires mourning. Two such institutional features will be discussed. The first concerns the nature of theories about their work that economic agents develop, and how far these equip them to deal with the problems that their emotions and the inherent uncertainty of their task necessarily force them to experience. The second concerns the arrangements within financial market institutions to assess and manage personal performance, including when losses are incurred for clients. Some institutional arrangements may be more or less conducive to processes of mourning and learning from experience, for example.

We will close by reviewing some preliminary ideas. The theories with which individuals explain to themselves what they do and how they do it are part of the institutional arrangements which help them to work competently and to manage the stresses of work.

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Whereas a psychoanalyst will to a considerable extent define his or her task on the basis of his or her private and more or less conscious understanding and internalization of psychoanalytic theory see Canestri, ; Tuckett et al. In this respect, based on our observations about the Internet bubble, mainstream economics and finance theories may be problematic because they misdirect attention away from the issues economic agents must ordinarily face in financial markets in several important ways. That might be an acceptable characterization of a Work group.

However, financial markets frequently resemble large Basic assumption groups acting almost without individuality.

Second, mainstream theories do not help economic agents with the problem of how to make quick decisions with too much ambiguous and uncertain information. The institutional context we found professional fund managers describing, when they were interviewed in , was one in which interpreting information in financial markets was a matter of selection from conflicting signals. Situations where things were straightforward either did not occur or were uninteresting — because everyone agreed on the price and there was no investment opportunity. Rather they had routinely to manage two different orders of essentially irresolvable uncertainty that necessarily posed emotional conflict.

Another set was determined by the fact that, however well they know the present, the future is inherently unknowable. Respondents had to predict both how the underlying enterprises they wanted to invest in would do in the future and how other people would predict as well see, also, Keynes, , p. They then had to wait and see what the necessarily unpredictable future would bring. Nothing done in the present can quantify that risk or remove that uncertainty.

Because investors need to predict the future behaviour of firms and their customers, competitors, future human innovation, and the responses to information about all this among others in financial markets, they are constantly uncertain and anxious about their decisions to buy, hold or sell assets. Decisions will always involve some degree of balancing hope and risk — including the risk of getting it wrong and then of having to pay the price.

Third, mainstream economic theory reduces emotion to the irrational. In recent years a weight of argument has been assembled to suggest that the model of consistent calculating economic man is an unhelpful abstraction at odds with empirical descriptions of how anyone makes effective decisions see Berezin, ; Gigerenzer, The important point is that ignoring emotion in economic theories creates an institutional context where formal attention cannot be given to it; in these circumstances it is very likely defended against and split off, probably in dysfunctional ways.

This is an area for further research. This may help to explain why little forensic examination is given to the aftermath of financial crises beyond seeking to place blame. We might also expect that the greedy pursuit of individual interest in a PS or D state of mind is rather different. In a PS state longer term consequences can be split off, but not in a D state.

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The way economic agents are rewarded for their performance in financial markets is another important part of the institutional context in which they work. The way performance evaluation works may create emotional conflicts for economic agents which, if left unaddressed, may worsen market instability in at least three ways. First, the industry is founded on a contradiction. The professional asset management industry is very large, global and highly competitive.

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The contradiction frames the institutional situation in which portfolio managers find themselves as they try to think about their work; the size of the sums they can obtain to manage determines their fees and their performance determines the assets they get asked to manage. At the same time, the evidence as to whether a fund manager or any other investor can systematically and consistently outperform the market except by chance is largely negative for example, Malkiel, , p.

This situation undoubtedly creates emotional conflict but may also create a PS state of mind. Managers who survive may do so because they take more risks than average and get lucky — the others who take equivalent risk but were not so lucky lose their jobs. If so, there is a reward for splitting.


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Adapting expressions used by Arrow , investment management may be based on adverse selection and moral hazard both rewarding a PS rather than D sense of reality. If so, this is likely to contribute to ongoing financial instability. Second, the asset management industry, like the wider banking community, has taken the view that it can actually measure risk. Following a number of financial scandals and administrative reforms Clark and Thrift, , risk in investment portfolios is now measured.

This is done by calculating the historical variability of the price of all assets in a portfolio and then calculating an overall risk coefficient represented as volatility. It is controversial because the measurements, which appear to predict the future precisely, use inevitably arbitrary selections of past data to do so. The approach may discipline economic agents and make them think about the positions they build up, but cannot overcome the fact that the future is inherently uncertain Pixley, ; Taleb, In the latter case risk measures could function like reassuring noise, making anxieties unconscious pending the return of the repressed.

Third, the way performance measurement is used to reward managers or funds may have some significant consequences. Performance is generally defined in relative terms; by comparing any one manager against a benchmark index which is the average of all others in a given category over a set period of time. Because computers make such performance easy to calculate on a moment by moment basis managers can be compared to their peers minute by minute. This structural situation makes it hard to stick to unfashionable strategies if they do not produce quick results and will tend to create benchmark hugging — one explanation for the pressure for the unbelievers to join in when a phantastic object makes waves.

Das Kaufen, Behalten oder Verkaufen von Geldanlagen in unsicheren und nicht eindeutig zu bestimmenden Situationen impliziert, so die These, immer auch eine ambivalente emotionale und Phantasiebeziehung zu ihnen. Muovendo da resoconti passati, corroborati da interviste, gli autori propongono un approccio psicoanalitico centrato su modelli relazionali, stati mentali e dinamiche di gruppo inconsci in grado di spiegare prominenti questioni sulle bolle finanziarie, non esplicabili mediante le teorie economiche classiche.

Volume 89 , Issue 2. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

Free Access. Search for more papers by this author. Tools Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract This paper sets out to explore if standard psychoanalytic thinking based on clinical experience can illuminate instability in financial markets and its widespread human consequences. Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.

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Figure 2 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Emotion, ambiguity and uncertainty Experience from the interviews being conducted by one of the authors suggests that uncertainty and, in particular, the difficulty of deciding what information to trust and what to ignore are indeed the main issues. The battle is never won, of course — a point that Freud saw as a new insight into something which had not previously been adequately acknowledged: As people grow up, then, they cease to play, and they seem to give up the yield of pleasure which they gained from playing.

Towards a psychoanalytic frame: Phantastic objects During the dot. It is significant that verbal communications are treated very differently in the two types of group functioning: We have been forced to the conclusion that verbal exchange is only understood by the W[ork] group. New economy: New rules According to the view just set out, belief in the real availability of phantastic objects turns reality upside down. Panic: The return of the repressed? A psychoanalytic understanding of financial bubbles Financial market bubbles mainly occur when new developments appear to offer potentially exceptional yields to investors, often at times of promised technological changes which make future developments increasingly difficult to predict for a discussion, see Perez, Evaluating performance The way economic agents are rewarded for their performance in financial markets is another important part of the institutional context in which they work.

Altman N Manic society: Toward the depressive position. Psychoanal Dial 15 : — Google Scholar. Crossref Google Scholar. PubMed Google Scholar.

Citing Literature. Volume 89 , Issue 2 April Pages Figures References Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. New Password. Thus, psychoanalysis emerges precisely to deal with what science discards regarding the knowledge and wisdom about the body, i. In reference to the above mentioned, psychoanalysis, concretely the Freudian theory, departs from the dualist body-mind concept and introduces a field for which the body and affections cannot be considered separately but in close conformation.

Accordingly, the concept of drive becomes part of the theoretical backbone of psychoanalysis.

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Simultaneously, Husserl proposed a phenomenology that establishes the epistemological basis to distinguish between Subject and World. Subject is precisely a consciousness, and everything that is not consciousness is World. In phenomenology, the intentionality of the consciousness Footnote 1 implies that it always has to be owned; in other words, the consciousness always has an object. Real properties are eo ipso causal ones. To know a thing therefore means to know from experience how it behaves under pressure and impact, in being bent and being broken, when heated and when cooled, etc.