Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Very Specific Kind of Person

Excerpt from Fareed Zakaria's most recent article in Newsweek

Wall Street will also need to change. Paul Volcker has long argued that the recent spate of financial innovation was nothing of the kind: it simply shuffled around existing resources while contributing few real benefits to the economy. Such activity will now be reduced significantly. Boykin Curry, managing director of Eagle Capital, says, "For 20 years, the DNA of nearly every financial institution had morphed dangerously. Each time someone at the table pressed for more leverage and more risk, the next few years proved them 'right.' These people were emboldened, they were promoted and they gained control of ever more capital. Meanwhile, anyone in power who hesitated, who argued for caution, was proved 'wrong.' The cautious types were increasingly intimidated, passed over for promotion. They lost their hold on capital. This happened every day in almost every financial institution over and over, until we ended up with a very specific kind of person running things. This year, the capital that remains is finally being reallocated to more careful, thoughtful executives and investors—the Warren Buffetts … of the world."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hipster Revolutionaries

Barack Obama's association with Bill Ayers is yet another intriguing story. The Weather Underground was as militant as any other radical organization of the 1960s and 70s. The were definitely the most violent. I posted about them a while back. Read about it here.

A comparison of the Weather Underground and early American anarchists reveals some interesting discussion points. The Weathermen bombed a lot of government buildings, including the Pentagon and the State Department. However, only one person died in their attack, and he was a member of the group. Early American anarchists attempted many assassinations upon high-profile leaders, including Henry Clay Fricke and President William McKinley.

In the case of the 1970s, the major revolution came not from the radical left, but from the conservative right. In the case of the early anarchists, the revolution was not quite as obvious. Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency and changed the course of American history. Was his "victory" one for the right or for the left?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The JP Morgan of the 21st Century