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Finance FictionsRealism and Psychosis in a Time of Economic Crisis$
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Arne De Boever

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279166

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279166.001.0001

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Financial Realism in The Fear Index

Financial Realism in The Fear Index

(p.78) Three Financial Realism in The Fear Index
Finance Fictions

Arne De Boever

Fordham University Press

Chapter Three compares and contrasts the psychotic realism of Psycho and American Psycho to the financial realism of more contemporary finance fictions such as Alger’s The Darlings. The case-study in this chapter is Robert Harris’ science-fiction thriller The Fear Index. While The Fear Index continues the finance novel’s theme of psychosis—its main character, a finance man, is suggested to be psychotic and the novel includes a murder scene set in a hotel shower that is clearly inter-textual with Hitchcock’s film. The novel also resists this theme by refusing to blame everything that is happening to its main character on psychosis. Instead, it gradually reveals that the source of the evils narrated in the book is a trading algorithm that has gone rogue. The Fear Index thus introduces its readers to the contemporary economy of algorithmic, high-frequency trading—a reality that, while it may sound like science fiction, is represented in the novel in a realist, and at one point even documentary-like, mode. Generally received as a sci-fi thriller, The Fear Index thus presents an important step forward in relation to the psychotic realism of American Psycho in that it resists what Joseph Vogl in his philosophical study of the economy has called “the spectralization of capital.” The economy is certainly not forgotten in Harris’ novel but instead takes center-stage.

Keywords:   algorithmic trading, Berardi, capitalist realism, financial realism, Flash Crash, panic

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