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2

Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work

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18
notes

Ho, K. (2009). Wall Street's Orientation: Exploitation, Empowerment, and the Politics of Hard Work. In Ho, K. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Duke University Press Books, pp. 2-121

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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week 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 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
40

The "culture of smartness" is central to understanding Wall Street's financial agency, how investment bankers are personally and institutionally empowered to enact their worldviews, export their practices, and serve as models for far-reaching socioeconomic change. On Wall Street, "smartness" means much more than individual intelligence; it conveys a naturalized and generic sense of "impressiveness", of elite, pinnacle status and expertise, which is used to signify, even prove, investment bankers' worthiness as advisors to corporate America and leaders of the global financial markets. To be considered "smart" on Wall Street is to be implicated in a web of situated practices and ideologies, coproduced through the interactions of multiple institutions, processes, and American culture at large, which confer authority and legitimacy on high finance and contribute to the sector's vast influence. The culture of smartness is not simply a quality of Wall Street, but a currency, a driving force productive of both profit accumulation and global prowess.

—p.40 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

The "culture of smartness" is central to understanding Wall Street's financial agency, how investment bankers are personally and institutionally empowered to enact their worldviews, export their practices, and serve as models for far-reaching socioeconomic change. On Wall Street, "smartness" means much more than individual intelligence; it conveys a naturalized and generic sense of "impressiveness", of elite, pinnacle status and expertise, which is used to signify, even prove, investment bankers' worthiness as advisors to corporate America and leaders of the global financial markets. To be considered "smart" on Wall Street is to be implicated in a web of situated practices and ideologies, coproduced through the interactions of multiple institutions, processes, and American culture at large, which confer authority and legitimacy on high finance and contribute to the sector's vast influence. The culture of smartness is not simply a quality of Wall Street, but a currency, a driving force productive of both profit accumulation and global prowess.

—p.40 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
44

The forces that push these college students toward investment banking are obviously multiple: the particular college environment, the strength of alumni and peer networks, the cultural linking of success and smartness with Wall Street, the hierarchical narrowing of career options and what constitutes prestige, to name a few. Perhaps the most self-evident reason for Wall Street's recruiting monopoly is simply that its presence dominates campus life: recruiters visit the university virtually every week, even on weekends; they show up in the greatest numbers at career forums, panel discussions and social events; their advertisements for information sessions, "meet and greets", and free drinks and hors d'oeuvres dominate the campus newspapers daily; their company literature and application forms are easily accessible, either at campus locations or online.

—p.44 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

The forces that push these college students toward investment banking are obviously multiple: the particular college environment, the strength of alumni and peer networks, the cultural linking of success and smartness with Wall Street, the hierarchical narrowing of career options and what constitutes prestige, to name a few. Perhaps the most self-evident reason for Wall Street's recruiting monopoly is simply that its presence dominates campus life: recruiters visit the university virtually every week, even on weekends; they show up in the greatest numbers at career forums, panel discussions and social events; their advertisements for information sessions, "meet and greets", and free drinks and hors d'oeuvres dominate the campus newspapers daily; their company literature and application forms are easily accessible, either at campus locations or online.

—p.44 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
63

[...] "They understand that interns coming in knowing basically nothing - but if you're smart and personable, it's worth it to them to hire you." [...] most do not even know what "financial services" is. "Most are going into finance because they haven't figured out what else they could do," yet "finance employers are seeking them out, telling them they're qualified for finance" no matter what their training, major, or department - as long as they are from Princeton. [...]

mix of bribery (salaries) and flattery (we only hire the best, we therefore recognise you as among the best) and preying on people who dont know what they're doing and therefore susceptible to corporate cajolery

—p.63 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

[...] "They understand that interns coming in knowing basically nothing - but if you're smart and personable, it's worth it to them to hire you." [...] most do not even know what "financial services" is. "Most are going into finance because they haven't figured out what else they could do," yet "finance employers are seeking them out, telling them they're qualified for finance" no matter what their training, major, or department - as long as they are from Princeton. [...]

mix of bribery (salaries) and flattery (we only hire the best, we therefore recognise you as among the best) and preying on people who dont know what they're doing and therefore susceptible to corporate cajolery

—p.63 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
69

[...] during the initial meeting between a Wall Street investment bank and a potential client, the managing director (MD) on the deal usually begins the meeting by introducing "the deal team" (the vice presidents, associates, and analysts on the pitch) with the explicit purpose of awing the client with their smartness, and thus, expertise. The presentation (contained in the "pitch book") not only includes the proposal for the deal, the market overview and competitor profiles, and the financial rationale for, and impact of, the deal, but also the relevant biographies and posed pictures of the team members, which painstakingly details their prestigious pedigrees and affiliations as well as profiles their deal experience and industry knowledge in the corporate cllient's area of business. [...] Positioning themselves as smarter, savvier, and more cutting-edge than corporate America by capitalizing on the aura of elite institutions, investment banks construct a mutually reinforcing connection between the market and the Ivy League: because we have "the best of the brightest" working for us, then what we say about the market must be believed and the deals we envision should be executed. [...]

hahhahahhahahaa

this isnt' exactly relevant to the point i want to make in my book (which is that SV is essentially the same, esp when it comes to raising money) but important thing to remember: just cus someone is smart doesn't mean they're acting in your interests. they serve their own masters, hidden in that black box algo

—p.69 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

[...] during the initial meeting between a Wall Street investment bank and a potential client, the managing director (MD) on the deal usually begins the meeting by introducing "the deal team" (the vice presidents, associates, and analysts on the pitch) with the explicit purpose of awing the client with their smartness, and thus, expertise. The presentation (contained in the "pitch book") not only includes the proposal for the deal, the market overview and competitor profiles, and the financial rationale for, and impact of, the deal, but also the relevant biographies and posed pictures of the team members, which painstakingly details their prestigious pedigrees and affiliations as well as profiles their deal experience and industry knowledge in the corporate cllient's area of business. [...] Positioning themselves as smarter, savvier, and more cutting-edge than corporate America by capitalizing on the aura of elite institutions, investment banks construct a mutually reinforcing connection between the market and the Ivy League: because we have "the best of the brightest" working for us, then what we say about the market must be believed and the deals we envision should be executed. [...]

hahhahahhahahaa

this isnt' exactly relevant to the point i want to make in my book (which is that SV is essentially the same, esp when it comes to raising money) but important thing to remember: just cus someone is smart doesn't mean they're acting in your interests. they serve their own masters, hidden in that black box algo

—p.69 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
77

[...] When it came time for my cotrainees to be placed in less prestigious and (much) less well-paid divisions of the bank, the full weight of unequal branding and classification bore down on them. It was also during this time that my GMFTP friends began to go home early, recognizing the fact that no matter how long past 6 p.m. they stayed at work or how much initiative they showed, they were excluded from the front-office positions: for them, hard work was already severed from advancement and reward. [...]

like the contractor system

—p.77 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

[...] When it came time for my cotrainees to be placed in less prestigious and (much) less well-paid divisions of the bank, the full weight of unequal branding and classification bore down on them. It was also during this time that my GMFTP friends began to go home early, recognizing the fact that no matter how long past 6 p.m. they stayed at work or how much initiative they showed, they were excluded from the front-office positions: for them, hard work was already severed from advancement and reward. [...]

like the contractor system

—p.77 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
79

Almost everyone else in the bank is considered "back-office" support staff (which includes operations, account services, trade reconciliation, technical support, word processing) and treated as a "cost center", which is understood as a division that depletes money because of the refusal of investment banks to recognize or compute their contributions as part of revenue generation. [...] They are often from middle- and working-class backgrounds, with an overrepresentation of people of color and women, and tend to receive their jobs through employment agencies, vocational and technical training networks, job postings, and word of mouth. Oftentimes, back-office workers are found not in the bank's "headquarters" building at all, but rather in less expensive locations in Brooklyn, other parts of Manhattan, or across the river in Jersey City. [...]

again, contractors

—p.79 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

Almost everyone else in the bank is considered "back-office" support staff (which includes operations, account services, trade reconciliation, technical support, word processing) and treated as a "cost center", which is understood as a division that depletes money because of the refusal of investment banks to recognize or compute their contributions as part of revenue generation. [...] They are often from middle- and working-class backgrounds, with an overrepresentation of people of color and women, and tend to receive their jobs through employment agencies, vocational and technical training networks, job postings, and word of mouth. Oftentimes, back-office workers are found not in the bank's "headquarters" building at all, but rather in less expensive locations in Brooklyn, other parts of Manhattan, or across the river in Jersey City. [...]

again, contractors

—p.79 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
104

Many investment bankers I interviewed remarked, occasionally with envy but usually with an edge of moral superiority, how inefficient corporate America is because people move so "slowly." As Wong suggested, it is extremely common for investment bankers to interpret their own experience of overwork as a sign that they know how to "get things done," as proof of their "smartness," in contradistinction to the masses of complacent, less capable workers out in "the real world" who therefore need to be restructured to more efficient use. [...] "We've made everyone smarter. We know much more about how global competition works, about how to create efficiency. Before, in the 1970s, corporations were so sloppy; now they are advanced. We're the grease that makes things turn more efficiently; we understood shareholder value and strategy before anyone else."

inspo for Neil not understanding that most workers already know that their hard work is severed from possibility of reward/advancement and maybe even ultimately useless (selling crap people dont need). they just don't care enough to bother

—p.104 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

Many investment bankers I interviewed remarked, occasionally with envy but usually with an edge of moral superiority, how inefficient corporate America is because people move so "slowly." As Wong suggested, it is extremely common for investment bankers to interpret their own experience of overwork as a sign that they know how to "get things done," as proof of their "smartness," in contradistinction to the masses of complacent, less capable workers out in "the real world" who therefore need to be restructured to more efficient use. [...] "We've made everyone smarter. We know much more about how global competition works, about how to create efficiency. Before, in the 1970s, corporations were so sloppy; now they are advanced. We're the grease that makes things turn more efficiently; we understood shareholder value and strategy before anyone else."

inspo for Neil not understanding that most workers already know that their hard work is severed from possibility of reward/advancement and maybe even ultimately useless (selling crap people dont need). they just don't care enough to bother

—p.104 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago
107

Wall Street argues that its greed for money is a "counteracting" interest against other more evil passions such as racism and sexism. Because investment banks are so greedy, so singularly focused on money, they become money meritocracies: whoever makes them money will be rewarded regardless of background or identity. Of course, instead of understanding desire for money as itself a constructed "passion," most Wall Streeters see it as a naturalized state. Similarly, the Wall Street mantra that "money does not discriminate" resonates powerfully with the assumption of neoliberal economic theory that racism and other prejudices form "an impediment to efficient market transactions and [are] therefore likely to be overriden in the long run by the exigency to generate profit" [...]

Using money meritocracy as a dominant discourse of exceptionalism, investment banks differentiate themselves from corporate America, which they imagine to be caught up in the traditional "ol' boys' network." Unlike the bureaucratic, out-of-touch managers of most corporations, Wall Street bankers are a modern, renegade breed whose singular focus on money makes possible color-blind innocence and objectivity. [...] investment bankers did not have to be aristocrats, but could be "geeky quant-jocks" or amazing "chess players off the street". [...]

it's funny cus SV views WS as exactly this ol' boys' network

—p.107 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago

Wall Street argues that its greed for money is a "counteracting" interest against other more evil passions such as racism and sexism. Because investment banks are so greedy, so singularly focused on money, they become money meritocracies: whoever makes them money will be rewarded regardless of background or identity. Of course, instead of understanding desire for money as itself a constructed "passion," most Wall Streeters see it as a naturalized state. Similarly, the Wall Street mantra that "money does not discriminate" resonates powerfully with the assumption of neoliberal economic theory that racism and other prejudices form "an impediment to efficient market transactions and [are] therefore likely to be overriden in the long run by the exigency to generate profit" [...]

Using money meritocracy as a dominant discourse of exceptionalism, investment banks differentiate themselves from corporate America, which they imagine to be caught up in the traditional "ol' boys' network." Unlike the bureaucratic, out-of-touch managers of most corporations, Wall Street bankers are a modern, renegade breed whose singular focus on money makes possible color-blind innocence and objectivity. [...] investment bankers did not have to be aristocrats, but could be "geeky quant-jocks" or amazing "chess players off the street". [...]

it's funny cus SV views WS as exactly this ol' boys' network

—p.107 by Karen Ho 11 months, 1 week ago