Analysis: Stock market beyond finance – Dhaka Tribune

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During the past 25 years, at least three stock market slumps have been recorded besides the usual ebb and flow of the market

Recently, news about the stock market made the headlines as investors incurred huge losses quickly.

It is not the first time this has happened; during the past 25 years, at least three stock market slumps have been recorded besides the usual ebb and flow of the market.

Today, I am not writing about the finance and mechanisms of the stock market manipulations; instead, I will reflect on the daily life of the retail investors and operations within the stock brokerage houses to make a case for us to understand social processes in general.

One may bring out insights more than what meets the eyes by visiting a stock brokerage house and observing investors’ and/or stockbrokers’ apparently uneventful daily activities around buying and selling stocks.

For example, stockbrokers and some investors eagerly wait for the market to start operating at 9:30 am every morning. Usually, the first hours are hectic while many stock shares are sold and bought.

Nonetheless, in the daily transactions of stocks, many profit while others sell at a loss to fund some emergency or invest in other shares to recover the loss.

In short, many future potentials are imagined in the workings of the stock market — apart from the stock market itself being very unpredictable.

To those unfamiliar with the stock market operations, various news and statistics about market summaries, company profiles, and other analytics might seem quite random.

But the Stock Exchange indices determine the fate of the investors who communicate over the phone to buy and sell stocks to secure a profit.

So, those involved in the trading try to minimize the chances of a loss and gain a profit by gathering disparate information.

Even so, some investors sit in front of the screens showing the market trend in the brokerage houses.

These people spend time trying to sell and buy stocks to profit. Throughout the day, investors keep a keen eye on prices and keep bidding or trading stocks.

Insider insight

In investment decisions, insider’s information/rumours play a crucial role.

For example, there is always information about which company is receiving new investment or holding “board meetings,” which triggers market dynamics by increasing or decreasing stock prices.

Of course, this information makes or breaks an investors future, but these also keep up the potential for a surprise or an unrealized outcome.

Retail investors who make a living of daily transactions in the stock market must remain extremely agile to make a profit buying and selling different shares simultaneously.

To gain a profit quickly, some retail investors follow some “guru” or advisor who provides the so-called insider’s information that sometimes gives profit and sometimes leads to losses.

If we look at the stock market operations, we will see anxiety and hope surrounding temporal incongruity between people’s knowledge of the stock market and its workings.

In more specific terms, those who invest in the stock market encounter temporal incongruity between the possibility of knowing and acting in the market.

Therefore, as social scientists, we could strive to understand how stock market investors, especially individuals, deal with the temporal incongruity in the financial markets.

It is important to note that a temporal incongruity does not simply arise from the accelerated speed and simultaneity of financial transactions enabled by new electronic technologies. 

Instead, we could find intersecting temporal orientations of financial trading strategies, insider’s information, workplaces, etc that come together in the investors’ life choices.

For example, some wait for stock prices to increase a bit more and eventually cannot secure a profit, while some continue to buy and sell secure smaller margins of profit repeatedly.

One could claim that temporal incongruity emerges from the stock market’s traversing temporal properties and possibilities — the intersectant temporalities or “timescapes” in the simultaneous flow of capital, commodities, and life.

Observing trading decisions, we could understand the different temporal properties of economic knowledge and action becoming visible to actors.

What is crucial, in other words, is the question of when and how temporal incongruity becomes manifesto market participants and how people react to such incongruity.

Whereas speculators or some stock traders bet on the future direction of the price of an asset, some retail stock market investors typically aim to lock in profits by locating fluctuations of selling and buying prices of the stock at a different point in time in quick succession.

Thus, this temporal feature of the stock market results in divergent anxieties, apprehension, possibilities and hopes.

Of course, the chance of profit for daily transactors depends on the perpetual efforts to locate gaps between prices.

But, it is interesting that there is always a gap between the present moment and the future under the stock market’s sheer incompleteness.

Even while the overall stock exchange drops, one could secure profit by trading multiple stocks in the market.

However, there is no denying that obtaining profit becomes ever so difficult when the stock market is manipulated on a gross scale.

The point of this piece: The temporal nature of the incomplete present gives the stock market its unique propensity.

In this sense, trading in the stock market entails what Ernst Bloch calls the ontology of “not-yet” and a propensity for temporal completion.

Analyzing a Japanese stock brokerage house, Hirokazu Miyazaki claimed that such prospective momentum is a temporal feature of utopian thought of all kinds.

Stock market investors continue to identify various forms of temporal incongruity.

This also coincides with the fact that in our society, in our everyday lives, we continue to generate incongruities of different natures that can reveal important insights about our social lives.

Mohammad Tareq Hasan is an anthropologist and teaches at the University of Dhaka. He also works as a research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

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