Month: August 2015

From The Big Short by Michael Lewis, pg 172. This is a part of the story of the financial crisis which has received too little attention: ‘innovations’ in finance were driven by the ‘disruption’ the established figures in the industry were subject to as a result of new online competitors: One of the reasons Wall […]

From Liquid Surveillance: a conversation by Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon, pg 22-23. I heard Bauman make these arguments at re:publica earlier this year and was rather impressed. As ever with him, it’s immensely impressionistic but I think he identifies something important that has been substantiated by other work, most obviously Alice Marwick’s ethnography of […]

From Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, pg 302-303 One of the managing directors from London, who happened to be in New York, actually took me aside to practise an argument he planned to put to the Bank of England. He had calculated the sum of the losses of the banks underwriting BP to be 700 […]

From Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, pg 302-303 One of the managing directors from London, who happened to be in New York, actually took me aside to practise an argument he planned to put to the Bank of England. He had calculated the sum of the losses of the banks underwriting BP to be 700 […]

From Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, pg 149: Their culture was based on food, and as strange as that sounds, it was stranger still to those who watched mortgage traders eat. “You don’t diet on Christmas Day,” says a former trader, “and you didn’t diet in the mortgage department. Every day was a holiday. We […]

Absolutely fascinating comments offered by Varoufakis in response to unfolding events in Greece: In the wake of Tsipras’s unexpected move on Thursday to call early elections, Varoufakis said: “Tsipras made a decision on that night of the referendum not only to surrender to the troika but also to implement the terms of surrender on the […]

Superb and worrying article in the LRB. I’d like to know more about international parallels to this trend in the UK, as it strikes me this is a very important dimension to the emergence of post-democracy: Unlike most other litigation costs, these fees must be paid up front; if you can’t pay, your claim won’t […]

As the article suggests, this initiative may be the result of the threat posed by Apple music. What interests me is how totally open-ended this is: how do we perceive and evaluate risks when policies take such a form? Sections 3.3 and 3.4 of Spotify’s privacy policy say that the app will now collected much more data […]

HT to Marcus Gilroy-Ware for telling me about this disturbing concept. This description by Arlie Hochschild is quoted in Bauman’s Consuming Life on pg 9: Since 1997, a new term – ‘zero drag’ – has begun quietly circulating in Silicon Valley, the heartland of the computer revolution in America. Originally it meant the frictionless movement […]

From Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 57-58. I’m very interested in how social expectations are generated amongst elites, how these in turn shape competitive pressures and the implications these have for how they orientate themselves towards non-elites. I’ve been looking through journalistic sources for examples of the super-rich complaining about their […]

From Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 54-55: Carnegie asserted that knights of capitalism like himself “ and the law of competition between these” were “not only beneficial, but essential to the future progress of the race.” No one would talk like that today, but our champions of capital do like to […]

Another remarkably revealing statement from a man who once likened himself to a giant digestive tract, taking in money at one end and expelling it at the other. From Plutocrats: the Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 53: George Soros told the gathered academics that “the markets are a machine for destroying the ego.” […]

From Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 52-53: One badge of membership in the super- elite is jet lag. Novelist Scott Turow calls this the “flying class” and describes its members as “the orphans of capital” for whom it is a “badge of status to be away from home four nights a […]

From Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 46: Carlos Slim, who studied engineering in college and taught algebra and linear programming as an undergraduate, attributes his fortune to his facility with numbers. So does Steve Schwarzman, who told me he owed his success to his “ability to see patterns that other people […]

Following on from my previous post, I’m really interested in how this trend shapes how contemporary elites seek to make sense of their actions and circumstances in moral terms. From Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich pg 44: Forbes classifies 840 of the 1,226 people on its 2012 billionaire ranking as self- made. […]

I’ve been thinking recently about forms of moral self-understanding amongst elites and how they change over time. I’m particularly interested in how those in the tech sector make sense of their own actions. But there’s a broader background here, in which ‘globalisation’ is seen and justified in explicitly moral terms. For instance, this passage from Plutocrats: […]

This snippet from an interview with the new Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, intrigued me: Pichai has said that he’s attracted to computing because of its ability to do cheaply things that are useful to everyone, irrespective of class or background. “The thing which attracted me to Google and to the internet in general is that it’s […]