Every now and then it's good to be reminded how work in finance is perceived by much of the world beyond Wall Street—and we’re not talking about Greenwich here, but the world outside of the metaphorical Wall Street, beyond finance. The public understanding is informed by film and television, of course, which generally portray finance as a world thick with thieves and scam-artists. And it’s informed by journalists, many of whom tend to regard Wall Streeters with a mix of contempt and envy that largely masks their own ignorance.
Take, for instance, the new blog at the New York Times. We haven’t actually, you know, read the blog at the Times because it’s hidden behind that Times Select wall. But we’re told the Times has college seniors blogging about the impending arrival of the real world. And, of course, finance has entered the picture…dressed in black, with guns smoking and the young women fleeing.
Here's how the blog at the Economist describes the NYT blog item.
The young woman who wrote today’s post says the best and the brightest all aspire to be investment bankers (she also thinks they read economics because of this desire). She does not regard this as a salutory development. A generation ago, the most talented graduates aspired to be doctors or lawyers. Medicine used to be the profession associated with a high income and social prestige, many of the brightest and most ambitious became doctors for this reason. Now we associate a career in medicine with malpractice suits and being the employee of an insurance company. For considerably less in student loans, and a significantly larger pay-check, a finance career holds promise of wealth and status. And so the brain drain empties directly into the abyss of the investment world.
You got that? Hedge funds, investment banks, private equity shops, brokerages. It's all the abyss.
The souless generation? [Free Exchange]