Elie Ayaches and Suhail Malik’s heterodox concepts of finance: the frenzy of contingency

The heterodox positions of Elie Ayache and Suhail Malik on contemporary finance are often perceived in the haze of accelerationism, although not widely discussed. Let us first turn to the prosition of Suhail Malik. For us, the contingent price movements of the underlying assets/underlyings and the likewise contingent derivative pricing itself are to be understood as interdependent processes of capitalization of promises to pay in the context of differential capital accumulation. What is the situation with Malik? The contingent price movement of the derivatives that relate to themselves must first of all include the factor of finiteness, insofar as the pay-off of the derivative on the due date means the expiry of the respective derivative contract. (Malik 2014: 410) Maturity, however, at the same time implies a constitutive shift that is inherent in the differential pricing of derivatives per se, and therefore it must ultimately be viewed from the perspective of the immanent features of the derivative itself, and not from an exogenous perspective that derives from the movement of the underlying assets. Here, the contingency that is apparent in the constantly possible revision of derivative contracts, finiteness, dominates. Finally, the „moments“ of finiteness and contingency always remain tied to the price movements and „laws“ of capital, whereby the way in which capital shapes the economy in monetary terms makes it possible to exchange derivatives and their future money flows, while capital’s hunt for profit remains decisive.

Although the indefinite variability of the price of the derivative depends on the likewise variable finiteness of the contract (pay off, schedule, duration, etc.), it remains inversely related to the indefinite market variability of the derivative price movement. Derivatives shift prices according to a differential logic of temporalization: the market price found at the end of the maturity of a derivative contract (options, futures, etc.) does not correspond to the price fixed in the contract itself, which means that without the temporal non-coincidence between the market price (spot price) and the fixed price (strike price) there can be no derivative at all, but only the purchase/sale of ordinary goods. Whoever, for example, buys derivatives on commodities, does not acquire the commodities themselves, but on a second level trades a speculative capital that always fluctuates in price, as a result of which prices refer to prices and not to the underlying base values of goods. The dual variability of derivatives, which is primarily that of the immanent price movement of the derivatives themselves, is what Malik calls the „plasticity of the derivative contract“ (ibid.: 406ff.), a term that operationalises in particular the endogenous derivative pricing (in its contingency). Here, plasticity is to be understood as a constitutive condition for the definition of the derivative price movement. A trader who hedges or speculates on the futures markets can sell or dissolve the contract at any time, or at least subject it to revision, by realising a deal opposite to the original contract during the term of the contract. The trader takes a long position and a short position on the deal in question. With this type of positioning, which is called „flat“ and where no delivery of the underlying is necessary, the trader can realize either losses or gains. Here, the trader takes a recombinant subject-object position, which is characterised on the one hand by the subjective opportunism of being able to switch constantly from one position to another, and on the other hand by the objective relativity of the derivative pricing itself (under the dominance of the latter). Finally, it should be borne in mind that it is precisely the fact that one can hold more than one position on the same asset that inflates the nominal sizes of transactions on the financial markets far beyond their current credit exposures.

According to Malik, four facts can be identified that are important for the economics of differential pricing of derivatives. (Ibid.: 404)

The derivative contract includes conditions that relate to the price movements of the external referent (underlying).

2) The constitution of derivatives involves complex modes of intrinisically temporal binding and splitting of the present, although the uncertainty of the future plays the decisive role, so that the risk must always be assessed, with which all price decisions are continuously revised.

3) Derivative pricing creates a new mode of optionality that allows pricing to be intrinsically arelates to operations on its own markets, by means of counterperformative acts that make explicit the singular conditions of the exogenous reference of the underlying asset for pricing purposes.

    4) Derivative pricing definitely requires the moment of contingency with which the endogeneity of the pricing of the derivatives themselves is extended to any pricing process - and this fourth dimension is what Malik calls the "a priori financiality" of capitalization.

Differential price movement differs from betting in that the price movements of derivatives imply endogenous operations with an indefinite plasticity (at least until the expiry date of the respective contracts), for which the exogenous referent (the underlying) can even be operationalized. (In the case of betting, however, the exogenous betting event remains independent of the wave itself). Derivative pricing, which not only takes place in an indefinite process, but also shapes, integrates and even determines the price movements of the underlying assets. What is ultimately priced out on the derivative markets is the pricing process of the derivatives themselves. According to Malik, this process should be described as an immanent process constituted by the "Infrawager" (ibid. 417f.) and this means that the terms of derivative pricing are not primarily dependent on externally determined conditions, but on the internal movements of their own parameters, coefficients and variables. According to Malik, the reality of the ingrain manager, which manifests itself in and with derivative pricing, exists within a twofold contingency: the contingency of abstraction (variability of the derivative contract and general fungibility of the underlying) and the contingency of revision (indefinite plasticity of the differential price movement itself, i.e. potentially constant shifting of the price). (Ibid.: 420) These contingent conditions of pricing always remain tied to the institutional-material power practices of financial capital that are found in the derivative markets, as well as to the monetary architecture of quantitative capitalization.

Malik considers the pricing of derivatives to be immanent and contingent, installing a speculative dimension with regard to the unknown future. From this perspective, the derivative constitutes the third component of contingency, the thetic contingency. The thetic contingency demonstrates the de-identification of the price movement not only in relation to the underlying, but within the derivative price formation process it includes the de-identification of the price in itself, i.e. every price is possible, but it could also ever be different. The temporal shift in the price movements of the derivatives is by no means to be understood as a purely temporal extension of the present (anticipation), but it contains the endogenous splitting of the present itself. At the same time, the price movement is part of the futuristic contingency, which, however, cannot do without the updating of the derivative. Maturity, in turn, is the point in time when the price of the derivative is convertible with the price of the underlying, or, to put it another way, equivalence requires a common price for the derivative and the underlying asset at that point in time. This equivalence could be described as the valuation of the derivative contract, which is always realised as money. Valuation is the conclusion, exhaustion and conclusion of the process of pricing the derivatives; it articulates the elimination of the difference between strike price and spot price at the end of the contract period.

1) Because of its exogenous reference value, the value already expressed in money compared to the derivative price is initially the determinant term for establishing the fact of the purchase or sale of derivatives. 2) The valuation of the derivative and the underlying is finally carried out by the derivative pricing and this is constantly modified in the course of the (implicit) volatility. Ultimately, at least in the financial markets, it is the price that virtualizes the value at any given point in time, and this is manifested in the derivative pricing, i.e. the price manifests the reality of the derivative pricing (manifest without manifestation). Thus, with regard to derivatives, we cannot assume any "anchoring" of the price by the value. And this further means that precisely because of the endogenous constitution of the price qua infrawager, value on the financial markets is not primarily determined by external factors such as trade, scarcity, demand, utility, utility value, abstract labour, etc.

Malik describes the a priori nature of the derivative price  as "Arkhéderivative" (ibid: 445ff.). And this under the condition of the presence of triple contingency: variability of the derivative contract (contingency of abstraction), variability of the derivative price (contingency of revision) and absolute volatility of the price formation (thetic contingency). According to Malik, absolute volatility in particular represents the power of capital today.

However, Malik does not succeed in establishing the a priori of financiality or absolute contingency, although he desperately tries to link his ontology of price to the theory of capital power as conceived by Bichler/Nitzan. On the other hand, it would have to be shown that the counterperformativity or volatility of price movement has always remained tied to the material existence of the derivative (and this implies certain presuppositions and conditions, indeed determinations, which are not primarily based on contingency, but are those of the quasi-transcendental nature of capital). There is a positivity of settlement, and this proves the unbeatable existence of the derivative as an important operator of capitalization. In order for a derivative contract to be realized and to make profits as much as possible, it must be written on paper, and this in turn must be given and exchanged. The derivative contract is thus identically one and resists contingency in a certain sense and will not change in terms of future possibilities and conditions. It at least retains its material identity in order to be exchanged. And this has ever happened under certain economic conditions. It is imperative to object to Malik with Laruelle and Ayache. (Cf. Ayache 2010a) So a derivative contract is written and its operation or programming at best amounts to a certain amount of money being paid out in the future if a certain economic event specified in the contract occurs. The pay off depends first of all on the material coding in the contract, and this must be exchanged on paper for the amount of money paid out if the event occurs. However, the conditions that determine the exchange of the derivative for money do not necessarily have to occur. Thus, the derivative does not imply any condition at maturity, although its ex post movement or its future is registered to it. And to that extent, again, the contract is contingent, but not probable. The real and undivided derivative contract could be exchanged for money in the market today and it could do so at a different price at maturity. And the spread between the two events cannot be bridged by probability. Finally, it must be concluded that derivatives are not only an inherent technology of time and a technology of power (Malik tries to put together the triadic contingency (time) and the criticizable theory of capital as power), but are first and foremost a form of money capital.

Against Malik one must further object that ontology in this context tends to philosophically overdetermine the theory of capital. If, for example, Frantz Fanon writes that ontology does not allow us to understand the being of the bogeyman, ontology, even if conceived as a deconstruction, similarly does not allow us to understand the "being" of financial capital. Although Malik himself repeatedly emphasizes that the ontology of finance (qua contingency, différance, etc.) must be linked to the concept of capital power as developed by Bichler/Nitzan, the ontology, as it is currently offered as speculative realism on the theory markets, virtually prohibits the radical question of the deontologization of capital and its practices of power. Malik's permanently presented indication that derivative pricing qua contingency constantly devalues the question of truth should have led him to a more precise problematization of ontology himself. In this context, however, it must be pointed out that Malik clearly distances himself from the accelerationists or speculative realists, whom he accuses of reinstating universal normativism under the guise of enlightening rhetoric that only further obscures the problem of modern finance.

The questionability of shifting the weight of economic analysis entirely to the conceptual-discursive side is far from over with the philosophical deconstruction of certain concepts, as Malik demonstrates. Moreover, it is a revenge that the concept of contingency is not assigned the right "place" in the analysis - it is "centralized", so to speak, instead of being of the update virtualization interconnection to be discussed. Moreover, contingency is also to be treated as an aspect of economic mathematics, which in turn means that linguistic hegemony in economic criticism must be radically broken up. Thus Malik's coupling of contingency to the concept of capital power comes across in Bichler/Nitzan as a strangely arbitrary enterprise. While Malik situates ontology entirely on the "surface" (pricing), without, at this point, however, correctly taking care of essentialisms such as utility or work, many Hegelian Marxists, of which even Marx was not always free, locate ontology as a conceptual process that runs under the surface (structure of signs), which is the actual or significant (abstract work) and which in turn expresses the phenomena on the surface as an inversion. Thus, in both theories the absolutely necessary analysis of the relationship between concept and economic mathematics is dragged out from the outset, while the philosophical distinction between essence and appearance is still maintained (in Malik's case as a deconstructive process). While Malik constructs, even overemphasizes, the anti-essentialist aspect of economic theory in an almost comical way, because it is purely conceptual and as a fixed structure of a negative deconstruction, the labor-value Marxists base their essentialism on categories such as abstract labor, substance, etc.

2) Elie Ayache

The French theoretician and trader Elie Ayache also claims that derivatives trade contingency, inasmuch as the difference that is produced by their trade, which always remains related to the future, simultaneously marks a difference in the present. In the minimal definition (relative contingency), the term contingency means that something could be as it is (was or will be), but is also possible in another way. (Luhmann) In contrast, Ayache understands the concept of contingency as absolute, unconditional and independent, as irreplaceable, as the thing in itself, so to speak, in so far as things are what they are, but they could also always be different. For the traders of derivatives on the financial markets, it is a matter of determining a tradable price from the many possibilities offered by the price movement of derivatives in the face of uncertainty. When traders write derivative contracts, which Ayache calls contingent claims, they create forms of contingency, where the difference that is made in the future makes a difference now, because the price itself is a differential.

Derivative traders not only observe the time series of price movements of the underlying assets underlying the derivatives, but also, and above all, the movements of the derivative prices themselves. In reality, therefore, derivatives trading and its price fluctuations deviate greatly from the methods of historical statistics. Derivatives traders are not primarily interested in the statistics of the underlying assets and their prices. Instead, the fluctuating prices of the derivatives create a surface called the market, on which the prices are written and the price movements of the derivatives are separated from the underlying movements of the underlying assets.

An important question for Ayache is how to fix the price of a derivative that is consistent with the trader's strategy. According to Ayache, any dynamic trading strategy should be equivalent to pricing a derivative. (Cf. Ayache 2010a) What complicates the matter is simply that the price of a derivative is determined and shifted by a dynamic concatenation of derivatives and their prices - derivatives related to derivatives related to derivatives. The term market refers to the simulative space that enables the translation of contingent claims, the medium through which contingent claims move during their term until a questionable value is updated and then there is no future. For Ayache, the market also refers to a surface that is based much more on space than on time. A surface for the inscription of prices that are nothing more than a set of meaningless, quantifiable signs that communicate with each other. The instantaneously generated market prices of synthetic derivatives are thus distributed over a surface that isolates traders from observing the underlying assets.

What is a contingent claim for Ayache? It is something that replaces the compulsory transfer between the possible and the real, as envisaged in stochastics, by means of a written contract that has a real, material status, but is at the same time a contingent form that constantly crosses reality. (Ayache: 2010b: 45) Money is used to realise the contingent liability, where it exists in parallel with the contingent liability; it acts as a physical reality against which the liquid contingent liability of the derivative is redeemed; and this can occur during the term of the contract or at maturity. The price of derivatives is produced in the indefinite processes of counter-updating/virtualization; it is the result of the permanent translation of contingent claims. (Cf. Ayache 2010) The difference between stockprice and strikeprice also implies contingency. Although an underlying asset is always current, the derivative keeps the value de facto unstable due to its constantly changing price. The real value of the value is affirmed by the updating of the derivative at maturity. The updating of the price remains dependent on the programs of contingent receivables within the framework of various schedules and time periods. Ayache calls the "last minute" instability of the value, which is precisely what makes the price productive, volatility. (Cf. Ayache 2010b) Absolute volatility always remains beyond the chronological time order. It is purely virtual and does not appear in (chronological) time. The dimension in which continuous virtualization qua price unfolds is for Ayache equal to the virtual dimension of time, is space. Here, absolute volatility is closely related to the term price, inasmuch as contingency in price finds the translation of its differential character, i.e., inasmuch as volatility sees its indeterminism confirmed. Consequently, the term price has a virtual component on the one hand, but on the other hand it also refers to the empirical aspect of derivative pricing. The price, which indicates anticipations and is thus future-oriented, thus remains at the same time in the actuality of the market. (Cf. Ayache 2005:13)

Money is material and it counts, while the probability theory that most traders work with just doesn't count. Money realizes a difference inherent in the synthetic derivative precisely when an event occurs. Usually, the difference inherent in contingent financial claims is defined in relation to the underlying assets, and thus contingency is integrated into a corset of identifiable probable cases under the rule of One. The One stands for the totality of cases. However, if the cases are to be prices in the markets, then the contingent prices of the derivatives must also be understood as cases, with a certain independence from the underlying prices. Of course, there are the terms of the derivatives in relation to their underlyings, but a derivative contract is created before its term. And long before the contract expires, the prices of the derivatives relate not only to the underlying assets, but to the volatility of the derivative prices themselves, to the volatility of the volatility, and so on. The rule of price fixing then consists of continuously recalibrating the risk assessment models in relation to new prices. Instead, Stochastics still assumes that traders will move from one day through a passage - with a certain probability - to the next day. The unlikely assumption that today's probable cases are commensurate with tomorrow's is always interpreted as a backwardation. At the same time, however, it takes the construction of a number of possible future cases under the aegis of one (probability) to calculate the current value of the derivatives as the discounted expectation of future cases/prices. This, however, already indicates the limits of the stochastic measure of volatility for Ayache, while the determining parameters of the derivative have to be constantly reinvented and fixed in the context of a dynamic "replication". There is no reiteration of prices already known or planned or fixed by risk models, precisely because one is referring to a future that will never be present in this way (uncertainty). Thus, there are no constant transitions between probability-based cases to report from one day to the next; rather, we sleep in the intervals; these intervals are irritating variables because the connecting link between the cases is missing; these intervals are empty intermediate times in which anything possible could happen. For Ayache, contingent claims in the financial markets represent the conversion of debt, insofar as they are future-oriented and pastoriented. Rather than reassigning certain instruments to current models in ongoing hedging, it would be much more important to upgrade to to take the next level of hedging to the next level by using parameters that are used in a particular stochastic model to create a "hedging ratio" that is contrary to the model, while a second option, which differs in price from the first option, is hedged according to itself. Thirdly, it should then be considered that each time one observes a deviation of the option price from the price predicted by the current model, this should be interpreted as a signal to upgrade the current model to the next stochastic level, using the deviating option price as a hedging instrument against the next stochastic factor.

In this way, Ayache's questionable position on derivative markets could certainly be summarized at certain points, insofar as one can actually speak of a metaphysics of the market as an incorporeal surface effect, which, however, cannot do without materiality. It is precisely in the infinite of the synthetic derivatives themselves that a threat to the economic system could lie, because really no properties of the assets (cash flow, risk, time, etc.) can be fixed in a specific period of time (the determinacy of time remains empty), i.e. the corresponding elements of an asset, which are nothing more than those properties, already insist in a repeating difference, whereby postponement would then also no longer provide a solution, because ultimately the difference between fixation and change itself would disappear. If a thinking is connected with différance that refuses to decide between the alternatives of uncertainty and security (calculation), between opening and closing, by stopping the gap sui generis, then in Ayache's case thinking tips over into total uncertainty or opening. In this context, the structure would then be radically functionally subordinated to the process, although the hyper-fungible framework of variables remains highly problematic because it borders on infinitely exchangeable simultaneity. The system of capital ever already sets itself up as its own environment, it now mutates in all its purity into a system that presupposes itself, whose only temporary fixations insist contingent and which itself rotates only a gap away from chaos. And hyper-chaos equals absolute space, i.e. the mobility of moving elements, which continuously leads to new constellations. Absolute space is an open space, which is concerned with symbolic designation, as the designation of the relations of Indici and the co-designation of bodies/writings. But whether one assumes that the system is subsequently ultra-stable or ultra-susceptible to crises, insisting on its permanent variability, it is still the capitalist system, which sets itself up as the same reproduction (in time), but in which the elements of the bourgeois economy and the forces of production are increasingly subtracted from the relations of monetary capital and its power relations. Pure competition, on the other hand, would take place on a surface called the market, without any need for the forms of value or capital. The limits of the system would be as fluid as its standards, the principle of pure opportunism would prevail, to which all reterritorializing considerations are ultimately a cross, because they only restrict competition/contingency in the financial markets. If neither properties nor functions, nor functions of functions are fixed, then ultimately there is only the nth superfunction as the absence of every finite or centre. (Schwengel 1978: 204) Accordingly, it would now be purely a matter of the emptiness or the empty space of existence, of pure competition without any antagonism, for which, finally, the ontology of the set can actually be used again in Badiou's work, with which the multiple is freed from every unit, namely through the empty set, the multiple from the multiple to infinity. Finally, in order to represent contingency, torsion or the Möbius strip would remain as a topological principle to think of reversibility and simultaneity, moments that cannot be distinguished from the pure process. Deleuze had laid the trail here by referring to Nietzsche, who grasped what is really infinite as a process of (creative) repetition, which, however, can also easily turn into a nihilistic process of eternal continuation, so that then, in fact, only an optional messianic or technological miracle would help to escape for the sake of continuation for continuation.

In this context, it also remains questionable whether Ayache's affirmative reference to the event theories of Badiou and Deleuze can be interpreted in such a way that it does not lead to a messianic or technological miracle. In Badiou's work, the empty set appears as the universal, deprived of all qualities, which might be identified with the value at the most abstract level: volatility as absolute contingency. However, the philosophical decision to turn to quantity theory is not contingent; rather, it reflects certain traditions, and in a certain sense even reflects the quasi-transcendental of capital at a certain level, here the commodity form or commodification. We demonstrated this in the discussion about Peter Rubens' Warenanalye. At this point, let us come only briefly to Deleuze: the concept of the (Nietzschean) dice roll presented by Deleuze consists precisely in the fact that the dice roll is unique, as there is only one event, which in turn is the event of the One, the roll for all rolls. The singular dice roll consists in the affirmation of chance and in all rolls the same roll returns, but always a little bit different. (Cf. Deleuze 1992a: 151f.) This really does not seem to be a case for stochastics, according to which chance consists of a controllable series of throws. In fact, Deleuze's conception of the event does not at all correspond to the simulation of a previously imposed rule. But does it correspond to the contingency of derivative markets? We will look at this question in more detail in the next section. According to Ayache, when Deleuze speaks of the empty space over which the singular cases are constantly redistributed, then this should correspond to the permanent recalibration of contingent claims, whereby the writing of contingent claims entails a direct translation of contracts into prices, without necessarily having to immerse oneself in the medium of probabilities and possibilities. Stochastics would therefore always be understood as backward looking, whereas contingent price corresponds to a purely future-oriented approach. And this duality, according to Ayache, has long been known to the theory of quanta, which deals with backward and forward related equations.

There is no doubt that the dromological production panic in the financial markets corresponds to a way of thinking that breaks with the figure of the stubborn predictability of events, even with the schizophrenia inherent, for example, in the paradox of Zenon's arrow of time (raging standstill). When the arrow of time itself begins to spin, oscillating complementarily like quanta in space and time, alternating between waves and particles, the price movements on the surface of the market also begin to oscillate as a series of constantly varying exchanges, as permutations of space and time, which cannot be thought of without their material effects. Networks with variable nodes are created, which serve as reservoirs of time consumed and time to come, but they are still reservoirs of capital, which as an autoreferential system requires system-preserving operations that guarantee the deterritorialized flows, while at the same time feeding on the reservoirs. If money was a decisive operator of modernity to produce syntheses in capitalism, then with synthetic monetary capital operators are created that move in real time as multidimensional sets of techno-medial prostheses on the surfaces of the markets and their fields, which Ayache constantly reflects upon. Undoubtedly, synthetic assets include the translation of the added value of code into the added value of flows, as mentioned by Deleuze/Guattari, which works through constantly new, virtualizing pricing, in order to finally generate that machine added value that needs the actants but is not the result of their exploitation. The deterritorialized flows, however, remain bound to the integral, whose digitality serves to link the flows to the code profit/non-profit. Indeed, there are interfaces between the immanent accelerationism of financial markets and the various regimes of post-Fordist capitalism, but factors such as the techniques of governmentality and reterritorialization are left out of most contingency-oriented authors' considerations. The market is treated as a neutral social form, so to speak, without referring to its constituent capitalist conditions and the status of its relative autonomy. It is regarded as a social machinery whose essential characteristic is its already unstable immanence, whereby not only the state but also capital mutates into external parasites, or only serves as a loose corset for the absolutely contingent financial machines that self-referentially accelerate the production of returns at all levels, and this with a self-synthesizing potentiality that can no longer be distinguished from its intense materiality. The market as a virtually circulating structure of pure competition, which is identical with the virtually fixable process (supply and demand), this unity always remains absent, insofar as it is still radically determined in the last instance by the reality of capital. Assuming a homogeneity of capital, the market can be conceived either as an executor or as a deviation of the law of value. In the first case, its constitutional processes would then be organized through naked repetitions, insofar as, with respect to the execution, only modifications of the laws would take place that would not bring about any qualitative changes, while with the deviation, apparently, its own laws would be set, which, however, would ultimately only be repetitions of the determinations given by capital. Open whole as capital would mean understanding capital neither as subject nor as totality, but rather as surplus production that is already endangered, which traces the emptiness in order to conceive of an all-together as a radical determination of capital instead of Badiou's Ultraeins, which reflects the contingency of the markets, whereby the market always has to produce the unity of the forms of capital, but cannot. The market itself is a capital entity, i.e. the relations between companies and state intervention are controlled, regulated and reproduced in the market and today especially in the financial markets. Thus, the market is a complicated technological hinge between the economy and the state, and it is also an arena of action in which differences are played out, with market procedures being preceded by the legal equality of the actors as a condition.5

And with regard to the Kant-complex in Ayache, we are interested here in the peculiar emphasis on the transcendental effectiveness of synthesis, which, however, is no longer than the synthesis of empirical data or Rather, the self-synthesizing potentials of the contingent material machines of the financial are ultimately indistinguishable from the virtual-real, the continuous variation of dimensions, properties and prices of assets, which is set in motion by the transversal "ontology" of the virtual that is the financial market itself. The virtual is part of the real object, the market, insofar as this one part remains in the virtual and remains embedded in it as in an objective dimension, which is the absolute contingency. And there is no analogy whatsoever between the actualizations in the markets and the virtual (both are real), there is no etheric medium of transition, so that the separating interval is to be thought of as a discontinuous jump and at the same time as continuous, so that one never knows where the virtual begins and the actual ends, except that in a single real world the heterogenesis of becoming from the become and vice versa takes place. And finally, matter would have to be understood as an intensive machine-based production of self-differentiation or as a body without organs, whereby it can only be posited as absolute indifference by death itself, the moment of absolute indifference. That kind of materialization would then actually be one with the real zero-time of capital, in which the virtual of capital is compressed in such a way that at some point it disappears into its own black hole. But it is always also about material processes, about processes bound to the hardware, it is about real processes in time that remain coupled to framing (see footnote to Kittler), to the quasi-transcendental nature of capital as an overall complex. Ayache apparently presupposes, however, that the respective product of production is primarily of interest as a depotted effect of the primary production of contingency, which constantly dissolves the binary difference between representation/structure and process in such a way that finally simultaneity in markets is achieved, an acceleration and intensification of material-contingent processes up to degree-zero, as Nick Land says, or at least an infinitesimal approximation to the zero time of capital. But why this still requires subjects, although the process is contingent in one way or another, is the question that should be addressed to Ayache. At least in these permanently performative processes of desubjectivation, the Hegelian automatic subject called capital is dispersed, although there is always the danger that as a contingency theorist one becomes the victim of completely different strategies that suddenly command one's own tactics, for example those of a cynical neoliberal capitalism.

Here, the subjectivity of the trader would indeed consist in writing the derivative as creatio ex nihilo -- of a trader, who is probably incredibly fascinated by the image of a presuppositionless tabula rasa and at the same time remains trapped within it, only to finally beam himself into the most open of futures with his restless writing. If there were indeed a future of absolute contingency, the "Blank Swan" would always remain in search of what is not. Against the concept of absolute contingency, reference should be made at this point to the concept of modal theoretical contingency in Elena Espositio's work, which describes the presence of contingent optionality under certain conditions. Conditions that in the last instance are to be identified as those of capital as an overall complex (which in turn the systems theoretician Esposito cannot think of). The "markets" constitute a double mechanism, a mechanism for disciplining and regulating the states and corporations that obey the neoliberal imperatives of production and reproduction at the level of organization, and a global mechanism that represents the fluctuation of profit rates. It is also a mechanism that produces the knowledge to maintain the conditions of capital accumulation and expanded reproduction, for the organization of financial funds. These are the basic functions of the markets, which cannot be reduced to pure speculation.

Only on the basis of the existence of several alternatives in the (divided) present, which are by no means unconditional, but always remain embedded in the capital context, is derivative pricing possible, which is also possible in another way under certain conditions. Finally, through all the praise of contingencies, contingency theorists have forgotten that derivatives - capitalization of future promises of payment or income flows - represent a specific type of monetizable market risk and their value as capital is the result of differential price movements within the context of capitalization. Derivatives are used to cut the risk out of the underlying and package it in a new form of capital that now has a price. In this way, derivatives transfer and price risks, whose quantities are therefore always measured in money. Because of the "mediation" of the speculative exchange of derivatives with money, every particular, concrete and case-specific risk can be considered interchangeable with any other. This opens up the dimension of abstract risk. The abstract risk, measured in money, serves as the mediating factor that enables different concrete risks to become interchangeable with each other.


Ayache, Elie (2005): The "non-Greek" non-foundation of derivative pricing.

In: http://www.ito33.com/sites/default/files/articles/0509_ayache.pdf

- (2008): The French Theory of Speculation. Part I: Necessity of Contingency. In: http://www.ito33.com/sites/default/files/articles/0803_nail.pdf

- (2010a): The Blank Swan: The End of probability. London.

- (2010b): The Turning. In:http://www.ito33.com/sites/default/files/articles/1007_ayache.pdf

- (2010c): The End of Probability. In: http://www.ito33.com/sites/default/files/articles/1011_ayache_0.pdf

Malik, Suhail (2014): Ontology of Finance. Price, Power and the Arkhéderivative. In Collapse Volume VIII, Casino Real. Ed. MacKay, Robin. Falmouth.303-480.

Sotiropoulos, Dimitris P./Milios, John/ Lapatsioras, Spyros (2013a): A political economy of contemporary capitalism and its crisis. New York.

- (2013b): Marxist theory, financial system and crisis of 2008. In: http://www.iippe.org/wiki/images/5/5f/CONF_CRISIS_Lapatsioras.pdf

Scroll to Top