Comments on: The problem with smart bankers http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: freefall http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-8042 Sun, 18 Oct 2009 22:49:32 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-8042 These people really are smart but not for the reasons the article attributes. Their ability to come up with cleverly named sham assets like credit default swaps and bundled securities was a real stroke of genuis. But really now anyone with any financial or accounting education had to see what purpose all these engineered instruments served. The ability to create some thing out of nothing had been reserved for magicians, and honest bankers and businessmen use to be content with a fair profit for a fair service. When the political reality of total control of government by the FED was realized with the help of Bush, the need for continued deception to draw in investors was over, the time to cash in had arrived. The fact that the scam is obvious and the players are well known is of no concern since there are no honest people left in government who can do anything about it. And we the people are left with the political reality that democracy is dead. We are left with the FED, long live the KING!

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By: Dave http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-8002 Fri, 16 Oct 2009 16:38:51 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-8002 The big change underpinning everything was cheaper and cheaper computing power, beginning in roughly the late ’70’s. Without that technology, none of the new breed of products could be analyzed, and the application of quant skills to financial markets was limited by an inability to crunch the underlying data.

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By: thoughtbasket http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-8001 Fri, 16 Oct 2009 16:25:48 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-8001 Not only did the smart guys get involved, but they were making so much money that they figured they must be geniuses instead of lucky. I’m reminded of Microsoft during its heyday, when everyone there would claim “of course we’re doing everything right, look how profitable we are.” It never occurred to them that they were profitable because they had a monopoly, and the wheels might just fall off. Sometimes being too successful blinds people to the real causes of that success.

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By: Rose Eli http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7980 Fri, 16 Oct 2009 04:09:59 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7980 What is Obama doing? Just sitting at the Whitehouse and waiting for Nobel prize. Back in March, it was the best and only moment to nationalize the banking system and eliminate the fat cats but dear Obama chose to pump more blood to the banking system and let them alive. Now we all see the result. Nobel committee should award the economy prize to Obama instead!

To save the bankers, we stack up the national debt and accelerate the bankruptcy of this country. Now again, they got billion dollars of bonus again, on the expense of the national debt! Great Obama! Shameful on you!

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By: Mr. Deal http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7956 Thu, 15 Oct 2009 18:16:59 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7956 Pretty compelling stuff by Trillin. Wrong, but compelling. More here:

http://www.thedeal.com/dealscape/2009/10  /the_eggheads_did_it.php

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By: American_Fool http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7933 Wed, 14 Oct 2009 21:02:50 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7933 I liken it to modern sports. The short term rewards of cheating are so high, that uppers, and eventually HGH and steroids make their way into the game. None of these things hurt anyone else, right? Well, unfortunately, not true for Baseball, nor for Wall Street. Now everyone must participate in order to compete. For Wall Street, the individual risk was modest as it was mostly carried by other people. The guy who risks the company (especially if he’s expected to do it) has no real risk except losing his job, but there are plenty more jobs out there (or were, at least.) He probably won’t even get the blame. However, when it does finally blow up, all his coworkers, his bosses, and all the company investors and creditors pay big time. In many cases, U.S. Taxpayers also. Problem is, how do you change the incentive structure? Is there an appropriate (I won’t say ‘fair’) way to force innovators to carry the risk? Conversely, do we really want to force people to avoid stupid investments? Meaning anything they don’t really understand? Despite the many good things they can be used to accomplish, Derivatives are inherently dangerous, to a greater or lesser degree. Derivatives can be compared to a loaded gun: Derivatives don’t kill economies, people kill economies. As if that half-truth makes the results acceptable.

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By: EmilianoZ http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7929 Wed, 14 Oct 2009 18:31:38 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7929 I believe it’s simpler and more general than that. It’s the same process of modernization/professionalization/optimi zation that has being going on everywhere.

Look at the evolution of tennis players for instance. Compare tennis players from the 60ies, 70ies to the guys we have now. Those from old times look like undisciplined amateurs while players such as Federer or Nadal are like hyper-lean intense killer machines.

Ultimately the force that drives all this is competition. You might think: it’s all good, competition will ensure the most capable will fill the highest positions.

I’m not so sure. I suspect there’s a law of diminishing returns in competition. It probably worked well at the beginning. Smart young guys from average/modest background who might not have attended universities in old times started showing up. This process was beneficial.

However it seems to me that the situation has now evolved into a new equilibrium. The new achievers are no longer necessarily the smartest or most talented. They look to me like the most brutishly methodical or those who know best how to work the system. For instance, in engineering firms, those who obtain high managerial positions are typically not the most technically competent or creative but those who are the most ruthless at office politics.

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By: Structured Products Guy http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7927 Wed, 14 Oct 2009 18:19:08 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7927 Don’t act like it was only rocket scientists going for too much green that started all of this. In the end all of these structured products have a wondrous document called a prospectus that even on those dirty subprime securitizations clearly showed that these borrowers would flounder if home prices did not keep rising as they had. Everyone (Including financial journalists, and noted economists on both sides of the political spectrum) got that wrong.

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By: Kevin http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7924 Wed, 14 Oct 2009 17:45:42 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7924 The entire system is just not for most people. As you so eloquently put it, one needs to be part of the “smart” crew. Clearly even the regulators don’t seem to understand what these guys are up to. I mean really, how did the SEC fail to catch Madoff for so long?

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By: Uncle Billy Cunctator http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/comment-page-1/#comment-7921 Wed, 14 Oct 2009 16:52:38 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2009/10/14/the-problem-with-smart-bankers/#comment-7921 “Bob Rubin, who famously had no idea what liquidity puts were until a bunch of them exploded right underneath him”

Huh? We believe him because this is what he told us? There was a whole lotta “geez, this stuff was so complex and I really didn’t understand it” goin’ on.

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