Résumé de la thèse de Pierre Pénet
Calculating and Governing Risk in Times of Crisis. Sovereign Risk and Credit Ratings in the 1930s and 2010s
Directeurs : Bruce Carruthers (Chair), Wendy Espeland, Wendy Griswold, Grégoire Mallard, Louis Chauvel, Olivier Borraz
My dissertation, Calculating and Governing Risk in Times of Crisis. Sovereign Risk and Credit Ratings in the 1930s and 2010s, analyzes the production of international law and of market governance standards in times of crisis. My research agenda is driven by two interrelated concerns. First, I attend to inconsistencies resulting from the transfer of private risk calculation into public governance frameworks as viewed from the perspective of regulators and credit rating agencies (CRAs). Second, I investigate the interwar roots of rating-based governance in the U.S. and evaluate its role in triggering the 2008 financial crisis. From one financial crisis to another, the use of agency ratings for purposes of financial regulation is a manifestation of a larger phenomenon that I term calculative governance.Calculative governance embeds the two opposite and conflicting worlds of governance and calculation: the discrete and the automated, contracts and algorithms, the political and the epistemological. It is within this contradiction that I look at the evaluative/calculative practices that credit rating agencies (CRAs) use to produce anticipatory knowledge under high uncertainty.
I additionally intervene in debates in the sociology of knowledge by studying the cognitive, organizational, and legal processes that inform the production of risk knowledge by CRAs in the sovereign debt sector. Building on a relatively new literature in the sociology of knowledge and science studies, I examine ratings as knowledge and legal devices. In doing so, I aim to redirect attention from epistemology to legal reasoning and governmentality to understand the inconsistencies that built up in sovereign ratings in the years leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown in general and the European sovereign debt crisis in particular.