‘Casino capitalism’ and the financial crisis


  • Rebecca Cassidy

    1. Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of Sport of kings (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Horse people (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). She is co-editor, with Molly Mullin, of Where the wild things are now: Domestication reconsidered (Berg, 2007). Her email is r.cassidy@gold.ac.uk.
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I argue that by describing the current financial crisis as the result of ‘casino capitalism’ commentators are reinforcing familiar and baseless assumptions about exchange and deflecting serious criticism from the true causes of the problem and how we might respond to them. I refer to recent ethnography by anthropologists working in international finance and to three features of casinos: customers, markets and regulation, in order to support the argument that neither individual casinos, nor the industry in general are good exemplars of ‘casino capitalism’.