The Reformed Trader

From that moment on, I started to see Wall Street with new eyes. I noticed the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash. I heard the fury in their voices at the mention of higher taxes. These traders despised anything or anyone that threatened their bonuses. Ever see what a drug addict is like when he’s used up his junk? He’ll do anything — walk 20 miles in the snow, rob a grandma — to get a fix. Wall Street was like that. In the months before bonuses were handed out, the trading floor started to feel like a neighborhood in “The Wire” when the heroin runs out.

I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now, for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me.

The above is from an insane New York Times op-ed by an ex-Wall Street / hedge fund trader willing to discuss the culture of unmitigated greed he’s seen. I actually don’t agree with all of the sentiments he expresses here – the truth is that some of these jobs pretty much suck more than life itself, so of course the people doing them should be greedy!

If you’re going to have to spend every second of every day, from 7am til 7pm, under pressure and lying to others about your actual ability as well as lying to yourself about what role you’re playing in society, well then, goddamn it, you’d better be getting paid! 

The question is whether or not you want this life for yourself, and if you do, then of course you should be focused on how much money you can rip out of it – why the hell else would you be doing it? Some traders are really happy with their career and have found both success and fulfillment. They do not spend every waking second under the gun, looking over their shoulders.

Many others are just the opposite. And for them, I can understand the obsession with monetary compensation. It’s basically all they have.

Anyway, I applaud Sam Polk for having the courage to write it, he bleeds all over the page. Head over…


For the Love of Money (NYT)

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