We wonder if there is a direct relationship between the performance of investment banks and the public image of investment bankers. A few years ago, New York's major publishing houses were fighting each other in a desperate bidding war for the rights to publish Dana Vachon's Mergers & Acquisitions: A Love Story. (And, before the last financial crisis of this magnitude, Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was narrated by a young man who came to New York to work in investment banking.) But now all the sad young literary men have turned against investment banking, regarding it as perhaps the lowest occupation available to educated people. Lower, even, than television writers.
Here's a guy who actually wrote a novel called All The Sad Young Literary Men lamenting that many of his college friends never became anything that counts. Instead, they became investment bankers.
Even worse than the temporary psychological distortion is, as [Dean of Columbia Journalism School Nick] Lemann argued in "The Big Test," the permanent sense of entitlement the admissions game provides. Winners can plausibly claim they participated in a brutal competition (even if many potential competitors were never told about it). So we owe no one anything. Many of the people I went to school with became doctors, public advocates, television writers who bring laughter to the American people. But most of them became, like my friend who believed that getting into Harvard was the hardest thing in life, investment bankers. We meritocrats have not, generally speaking, used our fantastic test-taking abilities to build a more equitable world. In fact, buoyed by a sense of the fairness of the process, we may have done the reverse.
Admission Impossible [New York Times]