New publication in Socio-Economic Review

Natalia Besedovsky published an article in Socio-Economic Review (currently as „advance access“ paper). Using the case of Moody’s, a major credit rating agency, her article “Financialization as calculative practice (…)” traces a fundamental paradigm shift in rating practices since the late 1980s. These innovations were driven by new calculative models, new kinds of analysts (so-called ‘quants’), and a profit-oriented organizational culture at Moody’s, all shaped by an increasingly financialized context. By studying credit rating agencies’ historical and current methodological publications and interviewing rating analysts, Natalia shows that the rating innovations of the 1980s and 1990s entail an entirely different set of epistemological assumptions about the calculability and predictability of the future, representing a fundamental paradigm shift in calculating and defining credit risk. In this framework, risk is not a threat that must be minimized, but a neutral variable that can be calculated, managed and used to generate profits. This new culture of credit risk assessment enabled the emergence and exponential growth of structured finance markets, fueling a culture of high-risk investments. The article contributes to the literature on financialization by arguing that financialization occurs both at the level of organizational culture and calculative practices.