Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

3

[...] in March 1996, the company retracted its initial claim of forty thousand jobs cut, announcing it planned "only" eighteen thousand layoffs. An article in USA Today noted that "observers say AT&T deliberately inflated its initial layoff estimates to impress Wall Street, which sees job cuts as increasing profit. AT&T's stock price jumped almost 6% in the two days following the January announcement" [...]

While the desire for profit accumulation is certainly not new, what is clearly unique in the recent history of capitalism in the United States is the complete divorce of what is perceived as the best interests of the corporation from the interests of most employees. Only twenty-five years ago, the public corporation in the United States was mainly viewed as a stable social institution involved in the steady provision of goods and services, responsible for negotiating multiple constituencies from employees to shareholders, and judged according to a longer-term time frame that went beyond Wall Street's short-term financial expectations to unlock immediate investment income [...] Today, in contrast, the primary mission of corporations is understood to be the increase of their stock prices for the benefit of their "true owners", the shareholders (that is, to create shareholder value). Employees, located outside the corporation's central purpose, are readily liquidated in the pursuit of stock price appreciation. [...]

—p.3 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] in March 1996, the company retracted its initial claim of forty thousand jobs cut, announcing it planned "only" eighteen thousand layoffs. An article in USA Today noted that "observers say AT&T deliberately inflated its initial layoff estimates to impress Wall Street, which sees job cuts as increasing profit. AT&T's stock price jumped almost 6% in the two days following the January announcement" [...]

While the desire for profit accumulation is certainly not new, what is clearly unique in the recent history of capitalism in the United States is the complete divorce of what is perceived as the best interests of the corporation from the interests of most employees. Only twenty-five years ago, the public corporation in the United States was mainly viewed as a stable social institution involved in the steady provision of goods and services, responsible for negotiating multiple constituencies from employees to shareholders, and judged according to a longer-term time frame that went beyond Wall Street's short-term financial expectations to unlock immediate investment income [...] Today, in contrast, the primary mission of corporations is understood to be the increase of their stock prices for the benefit of their "true owners", the shareholders (that is, to create shareholder value). Employees, located outside the corporation's central purpose, are readily liquidated in the pursuit of stock price appreciation. [...]

—p.3 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
5

Multiple key functions and institutions constitute Wall Street and the financial markets in the United States. Aside from investment banks there are asset management companies (hedge funds, pension and mutual funds, and private equity firms), and the securities exchanges themselves. Financial firms contain departments that deal with trading and sales, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), research, and investment management, each with slightly divergent goals, methods, and perspectives. From this broad landscape I chose as my primary field sites the central, iconic institutions of Wall Street, the major investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Merill Lynch. Within the banks I focused on those functions commonly considered investment banking proper - corporate finance and M&A - because they directly demonstrate the interconnections between financial and productive markets, between financial and corporate institutions. Through their middlemen roles as financial advisors to major U.S. corporations as well as well as expert evaluators of and spokespeople for the stock and bond markets, investment bankers work to transfer and exchange wealth from corporations to large shareholders (and their financial advisors), hold corporations accountable for behavior and values that generate short-term shareholder value, and generate debt and securities capital to fund these practices. [...]

—p.5 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

Multiple key functions and institutions constitute Wall Street and the financial markets in the United States. Aside from investment banks there are asset management companies (hedge funds, pension and mutual funds, and private equity firms), and the securities exchanges themselves. Financial firms contain departments that deal with trading and sales, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), research, and investment management, each with slightly divergent goals, methods, and perspectives. From this broad landscape I chose as my primary field sites the central, iconic institutions of Wall Street, the major investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Merill Lynch. Within the banks I focused on those functions commonly considered investment banking proper - corporate finance and M&A - because they directly demonstrate the interconnections between financial and productive markets, between financial and corporate institutions. Through their middlemen roles as financial advisors to major U.S. corporations as well as well as expert evaluators of and spokespeople for the stock and bond markets, investment bankers work to transfer and exchange wealth from corporations to large shareholders (and their financial advisors), hold corporations accountable for behavior and values that generate short-term shareholder value, and generate debt and securities capital to fund these practices. [...]

—p.5 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
16

Specifically, I was asked to conduct a Taylorist time-motion study of their workday, actually charting and measuring the kinds of tasks and the time needed for completion to judge how many workers were necessary [...] To say that Wall Street had little respect for back-office workers is an understatement. Although they were not openly disparaged, they were casually dubbed career nine-to-fivers; their work ethic was questioned, as was their smartness, drive, and innovation. Were they really "adding value," defined as directly boosting revenues or stock prices? [...]

—p.16 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

Specifically, I was asked to conduct a Taylorist time-motion study of their workday, actually charting and measuring the kinds of tasks and the time needed for completion to judge how many workers were necessary [...] To say that Wall Street had little respect for back-office workers is an understatement. Although they were not openly disparaged, they were casually dubbed career nine-to-fivers; their work ethic was questioned, as was their smartness, drive, and innovation. Were they really "adding value," defined as directly boosting revenues or stock prices? [...]

—p.16 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
23

Perhaps not so ironically, it was precisely at the moment when Jackson advocated the incorporation of marginalized communities into the so-called shareholder value revolution that my Wall Street informants began to suspect the impending burst of the bubble. Many subscribed to the old Wall Street adage: When cab drivers start asking for investment advice and stock picks, its [sic] time to get out of the market. As Wall Streeters understand it, by the time stock market knowledge seeps to the masses, the bull market has turned into a bubble economy. This assumption only makes sense, of course, if success in the stock market depends on a delicate balance of insider knowledge, market hype, and timing. Wall Street, then, views the democratization of stock market participation as a bellwether of oversubscription and as a signal for insiders to sell, meaning "latecomers" to the market tend to bear the brunt of crashes.

knowing that it's at least somewhat of a zero-sum game, only some can make a lot of money, the trick isnt just to get a certain amount of money but to have a certain position in the world economic rankings in order to command more power [prestige, etc] over others

—p.23 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

Perhaps not so ironically, it was precisely at the moment when Jackson advocated the incorporation of marginalized communities into the so-called shareholder value revolution that my Wall Street informants began to suspect the impending burst of the bubble. Many subscribed to the old Wall Street adage: When cab drivers start asking for investment advice and stock picks, its [sic] time to get out of the market. As Wall Streeters understand it, by the time stock market knowledge seeps to the masses, the bull market has turned into a bubble economy. This assumption only makes sense, of course, if success in the stock market depends on a delicate balance of insider knowledge, market hype, and timing. Wall Street, then, views the democratization of stock market participation as a bellwether of oversubscription and as a signal for insiders to sell, meaning "latecomers" to the market tend to bear the brunt of crashes.

knowing that it's at least somewhat of a zero-sum game, only some can make a lot of money, the trick isnt just to get a certain amount of money but to have a certain position in the world economic rankings in order to command more power [prestige, etc] over others

—p.23 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
24

If the shareholder value revolution was not sustainably enriching the average investor, who may also have been facing unemployment as his or her 401(k) appreciated a few hundred dollars (if that), then was Wall Street not increasing the stock price of corporations - their stated central mission? When I worked at BT, I certainly heard of corporations drastically cutting costs, whereupon their quarterly earnings and stock prices immediately jumped, but research and development suffered, productivity gains were negligible, and shareholder value over a longer time horizon did not increase and even declined [...]

[...]

[...] Morgan Stanley's advice, intended to bolster shareholder value, actually damaged AT&T's stock price in the long run, despite the fact that this deal making helped to generate an explosion of wealth for shareholders primed to cash out during the short-term price spikes. It is important to remember that investment bankers always receive high compensation for the deal no matter the result. [...]

the devil's in the details

this links to something i've been thinking about a lot, which has to do with looking at the actual proportions rather than blindly accepting vague statements. havent found a catchy term for it yet, but it's relevant to issues of tech IPOs (it benefits pension funds...! yeah, a tiny bit, for a small number of people, while it benefits others whose increasing power and wealth and control over the economy may end up hurting everybody else...)

also, something to think about: in this situation, compensation being independent of outcome is bad, because it makes WS people not care. and yet, for typical salaried employees, i think it is a good tie to uncouple comp from results, at least to a degree, to shelter people (so they arent subject to hardship for things out of their control, or even things somewhat in their control). what's the diff? is it the difference between abundance and scarcity?

—p.24 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

If the shareholder value revolution was not sustainably enriching the average investor, who may also have been facing unemployment as his or her 401(k) appreciated a few hundred dollars (if that), then was Wall Street not increasing the stock price of corporations - their stated central mission? When I worked at BT, I certainly heard of corporations drastically cutting costs, whereupon their quarterly earnings and stock prices immediately jumped, but research and development suffered, productivity gains were negligible, and shareholder value over a longer time horizon did not increase and even declined [...]

[...]

[...] Morgan Stanley's advice, intended to bolster shareholder value, actually damaged AT&T's stock price in the long run, despite the fact that this deal making helped to generate an explosion of wealth for shareholders primed to cash out during the short-term price spikes. It is important to remember that investment bankers always receive high compensation for the deal no matter the result. [...]

the devil's in the details

this links to something i've been thinking about a lot, which has to do with looking at the actual proportions rather than blindly accepting vague statements. havent found a catchy term for it yet, but it's relevant to issues of tech IPOs (it benefits pension funds...! yeah, a tiny bit, for a small number of people, while it benefits others whose increasing power and wealth and control over the economy may end up hurting everybody else...)

also, something to think about: in this situation, compensation being independent of outcome is bad, because it makes WS people not care. and yet, for typical salaried employees, i think it is a good tie to uncouple comp from results, at least to a degree, to shelter people (so they arent subject to hardship for things out of their control, or even things somewhat in their control). what's the diff? is it the difference between abundance and scarcity?

—p.24 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
28

[...] what imbues the presentist shareholder value ideal with such explanatory power is its rootedness in dominant historical narratives that legitimize Wall Street's identity as guardian of shareholder value and empower its role and practice in shaping corporate America. The use of shareholder value is part and parcel of a broader project of laying claim to a restorative narrative of entitlement and succession, through which Wall Street investment bankers have been able to define their professed beneficial social contributions to our economy. [...]

Specifically, my informants viewed themselves as gatherers and purveyors of the capital that forms the foundations and enables the growth and expansion of our largest corporations and public and private works. [...]

the main WS origin myth sees itself as indispensable to companies raising money to grow (even tho companies can just issue bonds? and surely there's a way to take over WS' important functions in a public manner, ie public banks) while also disciplining capital into staying efficient

—p.28 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] what imbues the presentist shareholder value ideal with such explanatory power is its rootedness in dominant historical narratives that legitimize Wall Street's identity as guardian of shareholder value and empower its role and practice in shaping corporate America. The use of shareholder value is part and parcel of a broader project of laying claim to a restorative narrative of entitlement and succession, through which Wall Street investment bankers have been able to define their professed beneficial social contributions to our economy. [...]

Specifically, my informants viewed themselves as gatherers and purveyors of the capital that forms the foundations and enables the growth and expansion of our largest corporations and public and private works. [...]

the main WS origin myth sees itself as indispensable to companies raising money to grow (even tho companies can just issue bonds? and surely there's a way to take over WS' important functions in a public manner, ie public banks) while also disciplining capital into staying efficient

—p.28 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
30

[...] Wall Street's narratives of shareholder value resignify the business landscape, creating an approach to corporate America that not only promotes socioeconomic inequality but also precludes a more democratic approach to corporate governance. Banker talk of shareholder value simplifies corporate history, limits others who may have claims on corporate profits, and forecloses a range of more equitable corporate practices. [...] "not meant to describe the world accurately but to organize and classify it symbolically," bankers' shareholder value discourses do not reflect the complex histories of the struggles for corporate resources, but rather reorganize corporate history and values such that certain interests hold a monopoly on corporate decision-making and profits. [...] these stories "delegitimate" the corporation as a social institution and "legitimate" the corporation as a private investment vehicle for the few [...]

—p.30 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] Wall Street's narratives of shareholder value resignify the business landscape, creating an approach to corporate America that not only promotes socioeconomic inequality but also precludes a more democratic approach to corporate governance. Banker talk of shareholder value simplifies corporate history, limits others who may have claims on corporate profits, and forecloses a range of more equitable corporate practices. [...] "not meant to describe the world accurately but to organize and classify it symbolically," bankers' shareholder value discourses do not reflect the complex histories of the struggles for corporate resources, but rather reorganize corporate history and values such that certain interests hold a monopoly on corporate decision-making and profits. [...] these stories "delegitimate" the corporation as a social institution and "legitimate" the corporation as a private investment vehicle for the few [...]

—p.30 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
34

[...] a finance capital-led version of capitalism, which privileges downsizing, stock price, and market crisis, is perhaps not so much about disembedding as it is about power relations and unequal clashes of differently valued social domains with diverging values of the world. [....]

cool way of putting it

—p.34 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] a finance capital-led version of capitalism, which privileges downsizing, stock price, and market crisis, is perhaps not so much about disembedding as it is about power relations and unequal clashes of differently valued social domains with diverging values of the world. [....]

cool way of putting it

—p.34 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
35

[...] From the stance of the disenfranchised, financial parameters like the stock price are understood as overtaking other values and affecting differently positioned people unequally. The unequal conflict between the priorities and agendas of the powerful versus the powerless, not to mention the dismissal, may in turn be experienced as being "turned into a dollar sign from above," yet such a phenomenon is perhaps better explained as the social effect of concrete manifestations of power relations, not abstraction.

—p.35 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] From the stance of the disenfranchised, financial parameters like the stock price are understood as overtaking other values and affecting differently positioned people unequally. The unequal conflict between the priorities and agendas of the powerful versus the powerless, not to mention the dismissal, may in turn be experienced as being "turned into a dollar sign from above," yet such a phenomenon is perhaps better explained as the social effect of concrete manifestations of power relations, not abstraction.

—p.35 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago
39

[...] My informants proclaimed that the smartest people in the world came to work there; Wall Street, in their view, had created probably the most elite work-society ever to be assembled on the globe. Almost all the front-office workers that I encountered emphasized how smart their coworkers were, how "deep the talent" was at their particular bank, how if one just hired "the smartest people," then everything else fell into place. [...] what was most culturally unique about Wall Street was the experience of being surrounded by, as Bern put it, the "smartest and most ambitious people." Logan added that the three qualities of success on Wall Street are to be "smart, hardworking, and aggressive. Everything else is considered tangential." [...] they will be working with "the brightest people in the world. These are the greatest minds of the century."

lmao

—p.39 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] My informants proclaimed that the smartest people in the world came to work there; Wall Street, in their view, had created probably the most elite work-society ever to be assembled on the globe. Almost all the front-office workers that I encountered emphasized how smart their coworkers were, how "deep the talent" was at their particular bank, how if one just hired "the smartest people," then everything else fell into place. [...] what was most culturally unique about Wall Street was the experience of being surrounded by, as Bern put it, the "smartest and most ambitious people." Logan added that the three qualities of success on Wall Street are to be "smart, hardworking, and aggressive. Everything else is considered tangential." [...] they will be working with "the brightest people in the world. These are the greatest minds of the century."

lmao

—p.39 Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work (2) by Karen Ho 1 year, 3 months ago