Financial derivatives and the challenge of performation: where contingency meets contestability
The attention financial derivatives have attracted with the 2007 crash has noticeably subsided as a result of the focus on austerity and deficit reduction which has come to dominate public discourse since 2010. However, concerns over the financial speculation they have originated and its effects on the real economy – that is, the domain within which goods and services are produced – have not disappeared. No longer in the limelight, derivatives nevertheless continue to populate the world of regulators with technical standards and rules aimed at preventing their speculatory ‘excesses’. One important manifestation of such excess concerns the value they express: this became apparent in 2008 when the amount of outstanding derivatives worldwide exceeded USD 1.114 quadrillion, 22 times the GDP of the entire world (Matai, 2009), raising critical questions about their relationship with the sphere of the real economy.