Quote of the Day: Financial Engineering

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From Paul Volcker, during a Q&A at the Future of Finance Initiative:

A few years ago I happened to be at a conference of business people, not financial people […] and I found myself sitting next to one of the inventors of financial engineering. I didn’t know him, but I knew who he was and that he had won a Nobel Prize, and I nudged him and asked what all the financial engineering does for the economy and what it does for productivity.

Much to my surprise, he leaned over and whispered in my ear that it does nothing — and this was from a leader in the world of financial engineering. I asked him what it did do, and he said that it moves around the rents in the financial system — and besides, it’s a lot of intellectual fun.

It’s funny, but for all the talk that this subject has received, I’ve really heard no one seriously contest this point.1  The inventors of modern financial engineering, far from defending their handiwork, instead seem to be intent on keeping their heads down and hoping that, in the end, Congress loses the desire to do anything serious to stop them.  It’s probably a pretty good strategy.

1Of course, I might have missed something.  Has anyone made a serious, thorough defense of modern financial engineering anywhere?

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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