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Date Posted: 16:44:43 07/08/18 Sun
Holtsie, this was not an "internet fight." If you want to see a genuine internet fight, you're going to have to go to an SEC, Big XII or Big Ten message board.
This was a philosophical discussion. It reminds me of a similar "philosophical discussion" when I had just begun my career in finance. I was the rare person who made a mid-career change onto Wall Street.
One day, I was filling out a reunion survey which asked, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is your job to society?" I had come from a career in biotechnology where my company's product saved lives -- literally. With that background as back story, I checked 2 or 3, not important to society.
Another trader was reading over my shoulder and he reacted immediately. Now, this guy had the classic hypercompetive personality. He had probably never once helped another human being in his life and would just as soon stab you in the back as give you a helping hand.
This guy said, "Our job isn't just important to society. It's THE MOST important job in society. We allocate capital. We allocate capital to its most productive use. We decide which factories get built and which industries get funding. We determine how and whether the economy grows."
While this particular guy had a comically inflated sense of his own importance, I had to admit that he had a point. Collectively, the people on Wall Street are very important. Much like, collectively, individual lawyers can be tremendous dead weights on the economy and society, we need lawyers as a class to enforce property rights and other rights.
Unlike, say, doctors, where even one competent doctor on his or her own is making a positive contribution to society, collectively Wall Street financiers are indispensable to the economy even though individual participants can be good, indifferent or terrible for the economy.
So I told my co-worker, "Okay, Bill, I'm changing my answer to a 7."
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