Michael Lewis updates us on the Wall Street he wrote about in the excellent Liar's Poker. It's not such an alpha male environment anymore:
There is a new deal for the alpha male on Wall Street. He can make his millions, and he can still strut and preen and feel important. What he can't do is sexualize his financial clout. In the late 1980s it was fairly routine for men on Wall Street trading floors to order up strippers; when a prominent bond salesman was fellated in a conference room just off the trading floor his colleagues were more amused than shocked. Not long ago a pair of Morgan Stanley employees was fired for merely attending a strip club in their off hours.
(via david archer)
There's a great piece in the new MIT Technology Review [free reg. req'd], "The Blow-Up," on the role of quants in this summer's credit meltdown:
For Richard Bookstaber, a quant who has managed hedge funds and risk for companies like Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley, the August downturn proved that concerns he'd long harbored were well founded.... Today, he is very worried about the tools and the methods of the quants. In particular, he frets about complexity and what he calls "tight coupling," an engineer's term for systems in which small errors can compound quickly, as they do in nuclear plants. The quants' tools, he feels, have became so complicated that they have escaped their creators. "We have gotten to the point where even professionals may not understand the instruments," he says.