What’s wrong with Wall Street

Well, there are a lot of things wrong with Wall Street. But if you’ll play a game with me, I’ll show you one of them.

Imagine if you took all the change out of your change jar and flipped each coin once. Ones that came up heads you kept, calling them special and brilliant. Once that came up tails, you fired as incompetent.

For all the remaining coins, flip them once again. For heads, tell them they are going places and could have a future with your firm. Tails, dump ’em.

Now keep playing this game. Round after round. Keep the “winners”, fire the “losers”, while investing emotionally in the results. Even knowing it’s BS, you will catch yourself feeling things. Pennies? You knew they couldn’t cut it. Not like quarters. Fuckin’ pennies. Except that wheat penny: he’s ok.

Occasionally, start a new cohort of change. Keep it separate, so you can track it. Tell the new guys how they should really look up to the big winners in the old cohort. How they can learn a lot from them. How that one quarter has the magic touch: 12 heads in a row. They should study him, learn how he does it.

Now do this with people. Make it complicated enough that the can pretend it’s not obviously bullshit. Give every “winner” a big bonus, and reward them again when they argue for a bigger one. And ask yourself: What kind of monsters have you bred?

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One Response to What’s wrong with Wall Street

  1. 300baud says:

    If you really want to understand this dynamic, read “Fooled by Randomness”: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1587990717

    It’s a quirky but brilliant book by the guy who wrote “The Black Swan”.

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