Thursday, March 26, 2009

arg, the financial box

the financial box is a term that i started using soon after graduating college to describe the careers of some of my college friends and many of my friend's friends.

i called it this because despite my usual high level curiosity, whenever the people in the financial industry would describe what they did at work i couldn't bring myself to listen. there seemed to be no real stories attached and the fact is i've never found gambling exciting. i did find it incredibly weird that so many of them were going into it as a career, and still i had no real idea what they did. but it seemed like impenetrable box, because i couldn't get over my boredom and listen to what a derivative or a hedge fund really was.

now, with this financial crisis, many of us are learning what these things are. but, it wasn't until i read thomas geoghegan's article "infinite debt" in harper's mag, that i heard an expert flush out my unease about the financial sector sucking up smart, young people.

this article unfortunately is not published online (here's the link for subscribers), but i recommend going out and buying the mag for the article (hell, why not support the printed word and the collages that go with the article by mark wagner are awesome). geoghegan writes about the loss of potentially great industrial minds to the toxic financial sector. he seems to say, or at least i do, this could be considered a huge societal opportunity cost.

this is actually only a small part of his article, but i think i will save the rest for later posts. but with regard to this subject, what if a lot of those smarties went into, i don't know, science instead? or ran successful companies that paid middle class workers for skills? arg, the financial box.

No comments: