When looking at financial markets, we should pay more attention to the physical stuff—the cables, boxes, chips and code—without which those markets wouldn’t exist.
That’s because the money infrastructure has a huge impact on the way society and politics function (https://newmoneyreview.com/index.php/2020/08/04/tiktok-shows-the-message-is-the-money/).
In the words of John Handel, our interviewee on the latest New Money Review podcast, “technical details are never just technical details”.
Handel, a financial historian, works at the University of California in Berkeley.
And as cash disappears (https://newmoneyreview.com/index.php/2020/06/05/covid-wipes-out-cash/), payments become fully digital (https://newmoneyreview.com/index.php/2020/04/22/payments-are-about-more-than-payments/) and tech firms make their moves into money (https://newmoneyreview.com/index.php/2019/03/22/zuckerbergs-boldest-move/), the question of the functioning and oversight of the money system seems more topical than ever.
Handel’s specialist area of research is the physical infrastructure of nineteenth century financial markets—the actual wires, telegraph poles, roofs and buildings involved in relaying information—and its impact on financial power.