Friday, March 20, 2009

Who Got Those AIG Bonuses?

And who are these people whose Credit Default Swaps and other financial instruments have driven the world's economy to its knees? Not what are their names, I couldn't care less about that, but who are they collectively?
  • They are almost always men, 93% male by some accounts.
  • They are mostly young. Thirty years-old is aged in the profession, Forty is down right decrepit.
  • They are instinctual. They don't analyze the markets and devise intricate investment plans. They really don't even think. Everything they do is based on intuition.
  • While they are profoundly greedy they never think about the real world consequences of their actions. A trillion dollars is the same as a sack of beans for them. "As a trader, IMHO, one must trade because one loves to trade and not because of the love of money. Money is just a way of keeping score," someone calling himself Harun I.
  • They like to imagine themselves as warriors, more like Tom Cruise in Top Gun than Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • They must be able to sit in stuffy cubicles staring for endless hours at banks of computer screens with mind numbing arrays of numbers without becoming physically ill or going insane.
    Although, in fact, they may well all be insane.
  • There is a mystic surrounding these traders. There is even a serious school of thought that the most telling sign that someone will be a successful financial trader is the length of his ring finger.
The problem with the Bonus Culture in the financial industry from an article written in 1997, pre-debacle.
The Characteristics of a Trader.
The occupational profile of a financial trader.

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