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Market technologies and the pragmatics of prices

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This article contributes to a pragmatist analysis of pricing and valuation through an account of the production of closing prices at the Paris Bourse. The Paris Bourse is an electronic stock exchange and the actors in charge of its technological configuration often need to face concerns about the quality of the prices that the configuration produces. Closing prices are particularly important because they constitute references that circulate widely. The author analyses how a problem of representativeness of closing prices was raised in the late 1990s and how several techniques aimed at solving it. In order to deal with this problem of representativeness, the author proposes the consideration of prices as signs in a pragmatist manner. Adapting Charles S. Peirce's theory of the sign to the study of prices, the author concentrates attention on the material display of prices, on their capacity to stand as traces of some event, and on the way they may suit a set of calculative conventions.
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Keywords: Paris Bourse; algorithms; electronic trading; pragmatism; pricing; social studies of finance; valuation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2007

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