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Transparency (market)

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In economics, a market is transparent if much is known by many about: What products and services or capital assets are available, market depth (quantity available), what price, and where. Transparency is important since it is one of the theoretical conditions required for a free market to be efficient. Price transparency can, however, lead to higher prices. For example, if it makes sellers reluctant to give steep discounts to certain buyers (e.g. disrupting price dispersion among buyers), or if it facilitates collusion, and price volatility is another concern.[1] A high degree of market transparency can result in disintermediation due to the buyer's increased knowledge of supply pricing.

There are two types of price transparency: 1) I know what price will be charged to me, and 2) I know what price will be charged to you. The two types of price transparency have different implications for differential pricing.[2] A transparent market should also provide necessary information about quality and other product features,[3] although quality can be exceedingly difficult to estimate for some goods, such as artworks.[4]

While the stock market is relatively transparent, hedge funds are notoriously secretive. Researchers in this area have found concerns by hedge funds about the crowding out of their trades through transparency and undesirable effects of incomplete transparency.[5] Some financial professionals, including Wall Street veteran Jeremy Frommer are pioneering the application of transparency to hedge funds by broadcasting live from trading desks and posting detailed portfolios online.[citation needed]

In the United States, the goal of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is to foster greater transparency in business ownership within the United States. By mandating companies to disclose their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the CTA aims to curb illicit financial activities such as money laundering and terrorist financing.[citation needed] This requirement seeks to enhance accountability and deter the misuse of anonymous shell corporations for unlawful purposes. Ultimately, the CTA seeks to promote integrity in corporate governance and bolster confidence in the U.S. financial system by ensuring that the true individuals behind corporate entities are known and accountable.[citation needed]

Critical transparency[edit]

There is a rich literature in accounting that takes a critical perspective to market transparency, focusing on the nuances and boundaries.[6][7] For example, some researchers question its utility (e.g. Etzioni[8]). This also connects to the performativity of quantitative models[9] or "reactivity."[10] Specific cases include transparency in the art market.[11] There are also studies from finance that note concerns with market transparency, such as perverse effects including decreased market liquidity and increased price volatility.[1] This is one motivation for markets that are selectively transparent, such as "dark pools".[12]

Dynamics of transparency may also differ between investment markets, cambist markets where goods trade without being used up,[13][14] and other types of markets, e.g. goods and services.

In fair value accounting (FVA), transparency may be complicated by the fact that level 2 and 3 assets cannot strictly be marked-to-market, given that no direct market exists, creating questions about what transparency means for these assets. Level 2 assets may be marked-to-model, a topic of interest in the social studies of finance,[15][9] while Level 3 assets may require inputs including management expectations or assumptions.

In the Forex market[edit]

There are few markets that require the level of privacy, honesty, and trust between its participants as the Forex (FX) market. This creates great obstacles for traders, investors, and institutions to overcome as there is a lack of transparency, leading to the need to develop trust with trading partners and developing these relationships through social means, such as "gifts of information," which is even seen on the trading floors of global investment banks that service institutional investors.[13]

With little to no transparency, trader's ability to verify transactions becomes virtually impossible, at least if one does not have faith that the market exchange is operating in a well-run fashion, a problem that is unlikely with the major brokerage services open to institutional investors (e.g. Reuters, Bloomberg, and Telerate). In a situation with a problematic market exchange lacking transparency, there would be no trust between the client and the broker, yet surprisingly, there is nonetheless demand to trade in dark pools.[12] This has also become an area of financial innovation.

Forex markets are now also a target for new blockchain innovations, which would allow trading outside of centralized exchanges or change the way these exchanges operate.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Madhavan, Ananth; Porter, David; Weaver, Daniel (2005-08-01). "Should securities markets be transparent?". Journal of Financial Markets. 8 (3): 265–287. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.finmar.2005.05.001.
  2. ^ Kyle, Margaret K.; Ridley, David B. (1 September 2007). "Would Greater Transparency And Uniformity Of Health Care Prices Benefit Poor Patients?". Health Affairs. 26 (5): 1384–1391. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.26.5.1384. PMID 17848449.
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Finance and Banking - Oxford Reference". Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  4. ^ Yogev, Tamar (2010-07-01). "The social construction of quality: status dynamics in the market for contemporary art". Socio-Economic Review. 8 (3): 511–536. doi:10.1093/ser/mwp030. ISSN 1475-1461. S2CID 153927678.
  5. ^ Felix Goltz; Schröder, David (2010-04-01). "Hedge Fund Transparency: Where Do We Stand?". The Journal of Alternative Investments. 12 (4): 20–35. doi:10.3905/jai.2010.12.4.020. S2CID 16137828.
  6. ^ Strathern, Marilyn (2000-06-01). "The Tyranny of Transparency". British Educational Research Journal. 26 (3): 309–321. doi:10.1080/713651562. ISSN 1469-3518. S2CID 144636355.
  7. ^ Best, Jacqueline (2005-02-10). The Limits of Transparency: Ambiguity and the History of International Finance. Cornell Studies in Money. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801473777.
  8. ^ Etzioni, Amitai (2010-12-01). "Is Transparency the Best Disinfectant?". Journal of Political Philosophy. 18 (4): 389–404. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9760.2010.00366.x. ISSN 1467-9760.
  9. ^ a b MacKenzie, Donald; Millo, Yuval (2003-07-01). "Constructing a Market, Performing Theory: The Historical Sociology of a Financial Derivatives Exchange". American Journal of Sociology. 109 (1): 107–145. CiteSeerX doi:10.1086/374404. ISSN 0002-9602. S2CID 145805302.
  10. ^ McGivern, Gerry; Fischer, Michael D. (2012-02-01). "Reactivity and reactions to regulatory transparency in medicine, psychotherapy and counselling" (PDF). Social Science & Medicine. Part Special Issue: Organization studies and the analysis of health systems. 74 (3): 289–296. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.09.035. PMID 22104085.
  11. ^ Coslor, Erica (2016-04-01). "Transparency in an opaque market: Evaluative frictions between "thick" valuation and "thin" price data in the art market". Accounting, Organizations and Society. 50: 13–26. doi:10.1016/j.aos.2016.03.001. hdl:11343/113919.
  12. ^ a b Pitluck, Aaron Z. (2011-02-01). "Distributed execution in illiquid times: an alternative explanation of trading in stock markets". Economy and Society. 40 (1): 26–55. doi:10.1080/03085147.2011.529333. ISSN 0308-5147. S2CID 153650371.
  13. ^ a b Knorr Cetina, Karin; Bruegger, Urs (2002-01-01). "Global Microstructures: The Virtual Societies of Financial Markets". American Journal of Sociology. 107 (4): 905–950. CiteSeerX doi:10.1086/341045. ISSN 0002-9602. S2CID 13742201.
  14. ^ Cetina, Karin Knorr; Bruegger, Urs (2002-12-01). "Traders' Engagement with Markets". Theory, Culture & Society. 19 (5–6): 161–185. doi:10.1177/026327602761899200. ISSN 0263-2764. S2CID 18812736.
  15. ^ MacKenzie, Donald; Spears, Taylor (2014-02-06). "'The formula that killed Wall Street': The Gaussian copula and modelling practices in investment banking" (PDF). Social Studies of Science. 44 (3): 393–417. doi:10.1177/0306312713517157. hdl:20.500.11820/3095760a-6d7c-4829-b327-98c9c28c1db6. PMID 25051588. S2CID 15907952.
  16. ^ "Understanding How Blockchain Works and Why it Will Transform FX | Finance Magnates". Finance Magnates | Financial and business news. 2016-12-30. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  17. ^ Stafford, Philip (18 December 2016). "ICAP looks to process forex trades on blockchain". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2022-12-10.