Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2167434
 
 

Citations (1)



 


 



The Anthropology of the Credit Crisis: Magical Thinking, Irrationality and the Role of Inequality


Niccolo Leo Caldararo


San Francisco State University - Department of Anthropology

October 26, 2012


Abstract:     
In 2005 I wrote a letter to the Financial Times describing the unsustainable nature of the financial instruments (derivatives) then being sold as insurance to protect investors from losses in other assets, failure of institutions and other untoward events. The complexity of these instruments and the magical nature of their acceptance by investors led me to an examination of modern economic practice from an anthropological perspective.

The flight from risk that derivatives represent is an ancient component of vertebrate life and is embedded in the caching of many animals. Other aspects of modern economics are residues of the history of human survival in simple exploitation of resources. The problem with the financial foundations of modern capitalism is that they are rooted in trends of social ideology that have come to be a structural component of economic and political entities since the development of economic systems in the late Neolithic. We have been a genus, that of Homo, for about 2.5 million years, and a species, that of sapiens, for perhaps as much as 200,000 years, but over either period, the type of means by which we made a living was hunting and gathering. This strategy required continuous mobility and cooperation between band members. The nature of our current survival strategy, that of complex society only began about 10,000 years ago in the earliest sedentary communities. So one might say that our current life style is new, adapting and tenuous. I described the central aspects of this ideology in my 2004 book, Sustainability, Human Ecology and the Collapse of Complex Societies, published by the Edwin Mellen Press. The purpose of this present book is to clarify the mechanisms by which this ideology has come to permeate most all religious as well as political belief systems and create conditions for financial booms, busts and economic hardship.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 314

Keywords: economics, economic anthropology, financial instruments, irrational behavior

JEL Classification: A10, A11, A12, A13, A14

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: October 27, 2012 ; Last revised: June 3, 2013

Suggested Citation

Caldararo, Niccolo Leo, The Anthropology of the Credit Crisis: Magical Thinking, Irrationality and the Role of Inequality (October 26, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2167434 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2167434

Contact Information

Niccolo Leo Caldararo (Contact Author)
San Francisco State University - Department of Anthropology ( email )
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
United States
415-453-9064 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 442
Downloads: 15
Citations:  1

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.250 seconds