Saturday, January 15, 2011

Watching the Watchers: Computers, Imagination, and Wall Street

Money.  We all need it to some level.  We all want it at another, much higher one. It may not be able to buy happiness, but it sure as heck can buy peace of mind along many of the axes adults have to travel. And the key to the money in the U.S. is the stock market.  Interestingly, the problem with the money in the U.S. is also the stock market. The recent downturn remains an astonishing example of just how far away from the capital our capitalist society has moved. Like they are in so many facets of our lives, computers have become pervasive in the trading game. So much so that the majority of trades are now done without any human intervention. Thanks to new data centers in New Jersey, Wall Street isn't really even the hub of trading anymore.

If the economy is a shared delusion, and it is, what are the implications. Is pointing out the obvious imbalance between the "institutional" investors and people something that would affect this illusion? How do we tell if the assurances of people in those businesses, who have every reason to believe their own stories, are really correct that it benefits everyone? Even if it does benefit everyone, just not equitably, is that simply good business? Can our government, already failing in their regulatory roles across several industries, really keep an eye on the system?

I believe the relevant Star Wars quote is: "She'll hold together. Hear me baby? Hold together!"

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