anthropology

Daniel Beunza has spent 13 years living among the increasingly rare New York Stock Exchange floor traders. He has studied their habits, ingratiating himself with them and gaining their trust, venturing out to such exotic and potentially dangerous areas as Long Island, to dine with them in their natural habitat, suburban surfing-themed restaurants. He has learned—to the best of an outsiders’ ability—their strange physical and verbal languages—set down for posterity in a glossary—and the structure of their fragile, tribal communities. And he warns that their extinction will not only extinguish a culture and seriously cut into the margins of goombah dive bars in Lower Manhattan, but will also put us all at risk. Read more »

When I was at my last job, I tried occasionally to take a step back from deals and markets and get perspectives on the bigger picture. To that end, I once went to a talk given by the anthropological theorist David Graeber, who is perhaps best known for being fired from Yale just maybe because he was an anarchy activist who was occasionally arrested at protests. After this talk – about theories of value from a Maussian-Marxist perspective – Graeber took questions. The tone of the questions, which often began “when I was in grad school” and went on to cite Weber and Nietzsche, and the variety and topiary ambition of the questioners’ facial hair, led me to believe that I was probably the only investment banker in the room.

Graeber now seems to be courting a financial-industry audience, however, with a well reviewed new book out about the history of debt, and an interview with Naked Capitalism today. It’s a good read, both because Graeber loves to be provocative and because it has things to like for both Ron Paul voters and Paul Krugman readers.

For example, think that paper money will destroy America and QE3 would be treason? Graeber’s takes a long-term perspective. Really long-term:
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