Lehman Party

I’ll cop to having the same initial reaction to Lehman and Merrill Lynch’s implosion, and the impending similar crises at AIG and Washington Mutual, as Markus Kolic:

Also: all the suit-wearing Harvard douches who’d planned long and fruitful careers at Lehman Bros can kiss my soon-to-be-delivering-pizza-for-minimum-wage ass. That’s right.

This may seem like schadenfreude, and in no small degree it is (seriously, those kids suck), but there’s an important point here as well. Investment banks just don’t serve any public interest. They’re premised on the notion that they can beat the market, which cannot happen in the long-run. Take it away, Michael Lewis:

One day, someone may look back and ask: At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, how did so many take up financial careers on Wall Street that were of such little social value? Just now, the markets are roiling, money managers and investment banks are reporting disappointing returns, and people are beginning to wonder if they chose the wrong guy in Greenwich, Connecticut, to take 2 percent of their assets and 20 percent of profits. But what if the problem isn’t the guy in Greenwich but the idea that makes him possible: the belief that the best way to invest capital is to hand it to an expert? As a group, professional money managers control more than 90 percent of the U.S. stock market. By definition, the money they invest yields returns equal to those of the market as a whole, minus whatever fees investors pay them for their services. This simple math, you might think, would lead investors to pay professional money managers less and less. Instead, they pay them more and more.

The collapse of Lehman and Lynch is going to batter the economy at large, which sucks and shouldn’t have to happen. But if the end result of all this is that people have faith that markets are actually better wealth managers than Ivy League douchebags, and that every econ major in America is forced to do something worthwhile with their degree, that wouldn’t be a bad side effect.

4 thoughts on “Lehman Party

  1. No problem, Markus, and Will’s post was truly great. Thanks for the props as well.
    Actual conversation overheard when I was leaving Annenberg Dining Hall this morning: “Dude, did you hear about Lehman? Where am I going to intern, man?”

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