Financial Bubbles and their Magic: Asset Price as a Heroic Journey in the Financial Markets

January 26, 2016

Alexandru Balasescu & Apurv Jain

Tuesday, January 26, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Why do financial crises appear unprecedented in spite of being a rather regular occurrence across countries and time? There are many answers from various schools of finance and economics, including Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis in which systemic stability endogenously results in instability, receiving particular recent attention. We explore the inclusion of observed human behavior in an endogenous framework by engaging with anthropological concepts such as myth, ritual and magic that structure and explain our behavior, and by extending the concept of agency from human to non-human. We also point to the possibility of better understanding our position in the mythological cycle using the new social media data.

Alexandru (Alec) Balasescu is an anthropologist (M.A. at Universite Lumiere, Lyon 2, and Ph.D. at UC Irvine), consultant, occasional artist and author of “Paris Chic, Tehran Thrills. Aesthetic Bodies, Political Subjects”, and of a series of articles on urbanism, body, marketing, and finance. He currently lives in Vancouver where he teaches at SFU, and is an Adjunct Professor in Urban Studies. Alec Balasescu is a visitor scholar in Global Studies at UC Riverside, founder member the Moving Matters Traveling Workshop based at UC Riverside, and co-founder and main curator of the multidisciplinary residence Nature, Art and Habitat in Taleggio Valley, Italy. 

Apurv Jain is an empirical asset pricing researcher whose recent focus is "What information does social media have about financial markets?" He gets to run a real life "finance lab" in form of two jobs- one as a scientist at Microsoft Research (MSR) and the other as a portfolio manager in the Capital Markets Group at MSFT Treasury. He co-leads a cross functional team of data scientists, social science researchers and finance professionals called Social Quant Initiative (SQI) and believes that one should be able to talk in both Mathematics and English. Apurv holds a master's in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, an MBA from the University of Chicago and he ran away to the practitioner financial world from his financial economics PhD program at MIT after completing his coursework and passing his qualifiers.

Previous work experience includes a senior researcher role at Bridgewater Associates, and a researcher and proprietary trader of exotic and structured FX options at Deutsche Bank, where he started and co-published a leading options commentary daily, and articles on subjects like common drivers of currencies, and valuing and trading FX skew.