dopey banker

What we have come to see over the past decade, culminating in the financial collapse is a new breed of banker: utterly unprincipled, ruthless and abrasive. You have to wonder if Greg Smith’s life is an episode, a subtle portrayal of a man’s psychological breakdown that occurs on realizing that an entire life’s work was based on a false premise or that the validating and rationalizing ideas behind that premise had been hijacked in a spirit both alienating and nihilistic.

---Zizek:Now we got it. It’s the capitalist system itself. This I think is a very important move because for me the mood was broken. For the first time in long years it became legitimate also for the larger public to question the system itself, the economic system. But of course, this is an extremely difficult task. On the one hand we know that in the 20th Century there were attempts to overthrow or improve the capitalist system. We know that for example, the most radical forms, Communism and so on, let’s be frank, they miserably failed. So we know what we don’t want. We definitely do not yet know what we do want. Read More:

And, to boot, with electronic trading software at such sophisticated levels there is a reckoning with technology that has made one’s life redundant; a conflict with the aesthetic rules of the past that have been mechanized and quantified, completely isolated from a connection with everyday life. In banking in particular, the technology of automated systems, hands free driving, like the automated Google car both embraces the individual and threatens by cutting them off, like farmers pushed off their land and occupying themselves with rag picking in the city.

( see link at end) : …Two weeks ago today, former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith published a scathing open letter in the New York Times. The “executive director and head of equity derivatives sales” lashed out at senior leadership for creating what he claimed was a “toxic” and “destructive” culture that put the interests of the investment bank ahead of those of its clients – who he said were routinely referred to in emails as “muppets” to be “ripped off”.

Now the media storm has died down, Goldman Sachs is going through its internal emails and Greg Smith is planning his next career move. But the obvious question remains: just who are those muppets?…

For an answer to that, you’d need to know what an “executive director and head of equity derivatives sales” actually does. But while the media storm spawned dozens of highly-opinionated pieces on Goldman Sachs or Smith’s motives, none that I could find actually explained the niche Greg Smith was operating in. Equity derivatives are contracts that give you the right or the obligation to buy, sell or exchange equity (shares) at some point in the future. So what does an executive director sales in equity derivatives do, and who does he deal with?

Regulars here will know that investment banks explicitly bar employees from speaking to journalists, while former employees sign attractive severance packages in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. Yet over the past fortnight half a dozen current and former bankers in equity derivatives volunteered for an in depth interview about their work.

Each interviewee chuckled at the suggestion that “executive director” with Goldman Sachs meant Smith was very senior. “Don’t be taken in by the titles,” said one former equity derivatives structurer at a big bank. “I was always the head of something. Looks great on your business card.” Indeed, executive director is a mid-level rank, usually with maybe a handful of people working for you. Most other big banks use “vice-president” for this position – an equally misleading term.Read More:

There are a lot of ways to look at Greg Smith; one is his relation to this financial machine that has a life of its own that no one can really understand; the fallacy that

braith brought up that in reality, no one can manage an economy. This machine can be manipulated and altered by certain buttons and levers, but is the exertion of the actions projected merely into a fantasy world? The creation of a real-time world that portrays obstacles faced in the actual real world, and one that can run with or without the input of people.

Secondly, Smith is a symbol of middle class phenomena, the dark underside of bourgeois values; a very padded, liberal, neo-socialist idealism and tone to his actions, and its all spilled out from within the barriers of privilege and a certain righteous aloofness, like preachy T.S. Eliot reminding us how low we have sunk; an aloofness that incarnates what can be considered well adjusted upper middle class values. Smith engages in this industry of dissent, – like Curt Cobain on the cover of rolling stone with an I have corporations t-shirt-  of populist cant common in urban liberal centers, which eloquently mock  capitalist ideology while now licking the rewards of a social economy with a tell-all Kitty Kelly style book deal. As compelling narrative, Smith’s published words to date appear to be in the realm of  superficial documentary.

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