Project of the Day: Robin Hood Asset Management Cooperative

The Robin Hood Asset Management Cooperative defines itself a counter investment cooperative of the precariat: “Our business is minor asset management”

They explain:

“How is it done? Very simply. By understanding that knowledge (immaterial and affective elements, the ability to learn, think, create and relate to the presence of others) has became a means of production. By understanding how these elements are producing value. By understanding how it is organized. By understanding the functioning of the new mechanisms of valorization at work in semiocapitalism. By understanding the mimetic logic of financial economy. By understanding the formation of market sentiment and how it organizes the multitude of transactions at the financial market. By knowing how the public opinion “runs” the formation of value.

Some basics about the financial market: The information deficit (or, call it ‘information overload’) is structural for the functioning of the stock market.

Nobody, including the big investment institutions, knows exactly what to do.

That is why making money at the stock market is not about being “right”, about having the “right” opinion, but about the art of knowing the common sentiment, the public opinion, and of anticipating, and even manipulating its movements. This is what Robin Hood does.

We are operating a massive dynamic virtual agent – we call it “the parasite” – that is able to analyze transactions from all major US Stock Exchanges including NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, etc. It operates a little bit like an internet search engine (like Google): it examines all information for a particular financial market segment and identifies critical patterns and relations in this information. What is the relationship between this transaction and this transaction, that transaction and that transaction, what is the regularity of their connection…

To put it very simply:

We know everything what and when people are buying and selling.

And then we rank them, these buyers and sellers, all of them, revealing the consistent winners and losers for a given instrument. The statistics are quite surprising. They are not just any statistics, but a dynamic technique which is able to transform bare beliefs and desires (to buy/sell) and their intensities and tendencies into anticipatory timelines: by piecing together the regularities of innumerable singular events which are conscious and unconscious, in continuous movement, productive and non-productive, individual and collective and totally uncontrollable by any traditional means, we are able to see an emergence of a form.

In short: we identify who is able to make money consistently with a particular instrument. We then follow when the majority of the best players of each particular instrument start buying or selling. On these basis, we then rank each instrument according to a prediction of its future behavior: it is good and prospective when the majority of the best operators (who have consistently been right about its movements) start going for it, it is bad when they start rejecting it. We identify the most competent actors for each instrument and manage our portfolio according to their movements. In other words, we operate in the pure space of imitation, pure space of mimesis. We let the bankers play the contents, we play the position.

Because, as Michel Serres writes:

– “The one who plays the position will always beat the one who plays the contents. The latter is simple and naive; the former is complex and mediatized… To play the position… is to dominate the relation. It is to have a relation only with the relation itself… that is the meaning of the prefix para- in the word parasite: it is on the side, next to, shifted; it is not on the thing, but on its relation. It has relations, as they say, and makes a system of them.”

Like Serres’ parasites we hook to the brains of the financial elite at Wall Street, the community of these men who are making millions… we know exactly what they do and when… and they don’t even know it. We expropriate the knowledge and capabilities of financial capital and its representatives and put them to work for us – just like capital normally puts to work our abilities and knowledge for its own increase. This is minor asset management. Another way to occupy Wall Street.

We have run massive tests 2003-2009 and 2009-2011 and now the operation is running. Our operating costs are ridiculously minimal compared to traditional asset management with high end locations and leather sofas. Now, we would like to build a channel to socialize or out-onomize this information, to use it, to play with it, to study it, to exploit it… but also to build on its basis a possibility of micro investing for basic income, for radical project funding, of cheap loans for financing one’s studies or life, in a form of an investment cooperative. We call it minor asset management, a possibility of political operation of building from our minor assets financial out-onomy in cooperation.”

In a letter from the Chairman of the Board, Akseli Virtanen explains their ethics, values and mission:

“Even if looking like a purely financial operation, Robin Hood is about organization. About emergence of a new form. It is about experimenting and inventing a becoming, when it seems impossible. For this the financial-tactical level of Robin Hood, no matter how well we have elaborated it, is maybe not enough. Robin Hood must also become sensible.

What does this mean?

It means that when you look at Robin Hood a little bit closer, it certainly looks like a financial operation, but somehow in a strange way. It seems to create a foreign language inside the techno-linguistic automatism of financial market, it is explicitly a parasite which hollows production of value from the inside. It escapes and exceeds the established meanings and identities of financial economy, makes them stutter and mutate. It releases minor finance from major finance, it turns major assets into minor assets. It is minor asset management. Which corresponds to our subjectivity.

Robin Hood is a project taking place in the midst of the marvels of financial economy and crises of Europe, when the precariousness of immaterial labour defines our every day, semiocapitalism exercises its arbitrary power and forces us to continuously exploit ourselves and our friends while cynicism, depression and detachment form others have become important means of our survival. There is no heroism in the exhaustion and disillusionment we are experiencing. We have difficulties in believing what is happening to us, because nothing seems to happen. We are tired of being ourselves because the self-evidendies of our lives don’t work anymore. We know they don’t, even if we still try to pretend that they do. We need a reinvention of ourselves, but have no strength or appeal for it. That is why we all sound like déjà vu. The realm of possible at our disposal is exhausted.

This is the starting point of Robin Hood. The closed reality of European crisis and semiocapitalism, the predisposed framing of the field of possible: the exhaustion of possible at our disposal, social life becoming swarm, the consequent morphostatis, loss of our singular ways of becoming. It seems that there is no way out.

How do you invent a way out, when there is no way out? How does something new begin when nothing new can begin? Robin Hood is a real experiment in this.

Robin Hood is an attempt of reactivating the body of general intellect. Not in the old political way of the last century, but in a strange way. In an insolvent way. In a monstrous or paradoxical way (but are you not taking part in the same system?!). In a disgusting way (what are the ethics of this?!). In a rebel way, maybe, but in any case in a way that is not reducible to present frameworks of knowledge and predictability (this is politics? art? is this research? or business?).

Robin Hood sounds like a ponzi scheme, a fake, or it could be a private group of aggressive entrepreneurs ready to take advantage of anybody. To become a member demands certainly something we don’t have, like belief in the possible, or imagination. This could all be a hoax or an “art project”. Robin Hood makes us uneasy, it breaks the “natural” and “easy” flow of independent action and ready environments. It is something unallowable and unimaginable, almost impossible… a monster… with its specters of mistrusts, weaknesses, confusions, fears, impossibilities, non-commitments and insolvencies… something which is closer to poetics than exchange of information and rational communication.

This poetical-financial monster, which is not reducible to present frameworks of knowledge and predictability and breaks the “natural” and “easy” flow of independent action and ready environments, with its specter of mistrust, disbelief, weakness, fear, impossibility and insolvency, is something around which we appeared also in Kassel Documenta in September 2012. On the one hand it was a straight forward cold blooded “pitch event” to raise more capital and exploit the Documenta structure – like the meanest motherfuckers of precariat would absolutely do. On the other hand, the “pitch” played in a way that was insolvent, included presence of a risk of excess and deception, a semiotic insolvency, a paradoxical, poetic, non-sensical ambiguity of the project, which has not yet become communication, for which you don’t yet have the words… but which makes you “feel it”, which makes it “touch you”, and forces the demonstrative gesture: “here”.

Could the depressing present, lack of hope, lack of possible, dead end of autonomy, be also a breeding ground for a new kind of monster, a parasite, that is self-aware, self ironical and has only its precarious present to share, and to lose.

We think it can.”

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