Algorithms and the Anthropocene - Finance, Sustainability, and the Promise and Hazards of New Financial Technologies

Authors: Thomas Grindsted*, Roskilde University
Topics: Anthropocene, Economic Geography
Keywords: anthropocene, financial markets, algorithms, natural disasters, algorithmic economies, nature and space
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper addresses how high frequency trading in financial markets is increasingly discursively related to climate change and producing peculiar iterative patterns of accommodation and reinforcement of climate change. Stock market trades have accelerated at a rate at which shares change hands in microseconds. This increases the risk of systemic crises. I examine the ways in which high frequency trading both reconfigures the dynamics of finance and changes the global financial system in different spatio-temporal ways, as well as produces political ecologies of engagement, divergence, and convergence between the financial and Earth Systems. Accordingly, I examine technological change and algorithmic strategies at stock exchanges. By analyzing algorithmic strategies I interrogate the connections between algorithms at stock exchanges and the environment, and how algorithmic financialization intersects the Anthropocene debate. The analysis explains the nature of high frequency trading strategies and market responses to natural disasters, tsunamis, typhoons, draught and wild fires. In the final section I discuss whether algorithmic economies singularly contribute to worsening environmental crises and how financial investment algorithms may adapt to climate change.

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