A modest proposal for Wall Street's future

Michael "Flash Boys" Lewis gives us a wish-list of eight (implausible) steps that Wall Street could take to check its feckless, reckless, destructive lurch through the 21st century.

Basically, he says we should eliminate people who are drunk on their own cleverness and people who are too young to realize the consequences of hubris:

3. Women will henceforth make all Wall Street trading decisions.

Men are more prone to financial risk-taking, and overconfidence, and so will be banned from even secondary roles on Wall Street trading desks — though they will be permitted to do whatever damage they would like in their private investment accounts. Trading is a bit like pornography: Women may like it, but they don't like it nearly as much as men, and they certainly don't like it in ways that create difficulties for society. Put them in charge of all financial decision-making and the decisions will be more boring, but more sociable. Of course, this raises a practical question: How will our society find enough women older than 35, with no special intellectual ability, to fill all of Wall Street's trading jobs? Well …

4. Wall Street will take the resources it once hurled at Harvard and Yale universities, to recruit their students, and invest in America's leading retirement communities, to recruit their swelling population of elderly women, most of whom are currently wasting valuable trading hours.

I think that we can all agree that a human being is never too old to trade. Many of these ladies would no doubt love a chance to engage in a bit of risk management. Wheel 'em in! After all, there was a time, not very long ago, when very old men were allowed to linger in their Wall Street jobs until carried out, feet first. These old guys were useful; they improved the moral tone of the place. If nothing else, they reminded the young people around them of their own mortality. Which brings me to …

Eight Things I Wish for Wall Street [Michael Lewis/Bloomberg]

(via Kottke)

(Image: Manhattan Metaphore, Paul Downey, CC-BY)