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The London Whale Scandal under new Scrutiny

Marc Pilkington

International Review of Financial Analysis, 2022, vol. 80, issue C

Abstract: This paper aims to extend the purview of the retro-causality concept, by exploring a complex and under-researched financial accounting scandal, namely the London Whale, a group of traders that operated on account of the London subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co in 2012. We specify the conceptual articulation underlying the discourse on the scandal, between the intentions, the actions and the temporality in which the events have taken place. We then elaborate upon philosophers Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson. We show the limitations of rationalization as a causal deterministic explanation of actions in light of a methodical review of the JPMorgan Chase Task Force Report in 2013. We put forward the idea that the scandal features flows of awareness, reminiscent of Bergson's duration. The articulation between intentions, actions and causes is performed, by mobilizing quantum macroeconomic theory developed by the economist Bernard Schmitt. We show the relevance of retro-causality for central debates in contemporary accounting (e.g. fair value accounting and the efficient market hypothesis). Our empirical study abundantly draws on Ludwig Wittgenstein's language games, and retro-causality insights borrowed from quantum physics. Our results confirm our theoretical intuitions: there is a common thread and guiding reflection throughout the accounting scandal, namely the idea that the future might influence the past, under certain assumptions. Finally, some groundbreaking consequences are derived for the accounting profession regarding the global crisis in 2008.

Keywords: Actions; Intentions; Causality; Retro-causality; J.P Morgan chase; London whale scandal (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.irfa.2022.102050

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