Felix Salmon

A spinal-tap test for hedgies?

By Felix Salmon
August 11, 2010

Financial services companies can take advantage of the cognitively weak in general, and the elderly in particular — especially elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. More generally, people who want to be in full control of their finances today might well want to put in place protections which remove them from full control of their finances in future, if they know that they’re going to get Alzheimer’s.

So now that a test looks likely which will predict with high accuracy whether you’re going to get Alzheimer’s or not, will we find people lining up to find out if they’re going to get the disease, and creating structures for other people to take control of their funds before symptoms appear? It seems reasonable to me. And will we find hedge fund managers, especially once they get to be a certain age, publicly releasing the results of their spinal-tap tests?

This is all very murky, in bioethical terms, but in financial terms it’s crystal clear: no investor wants someone with Alzheimer’s running their money, and few of us even want to be control of our own money once we come down with the disease. Whether that’s enough to make us find out whether we’re going to get it, of course, is another question entirely.

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