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Are young reckless males being unfairly blamed for the mess?

Ever since someone discovered that testosterone fuels traders on the way up and cortisol sucks the life out of them on the way down, it’s been fashionable to blame the financial crisis on men, particularly young ones.

Peter Bazalgette, he of Big Brother fame, is the latest to go down this route. In a letter to the Financial Times last week, he suggested that –

The 10-15 year span of business cycles the time it takes each new generation of over-testosteronised young men to reach positions of influence in markets. They are typically in their late 20s or early 30s and know no fear because, critically, they have not previously experienced a downturn.

Bazalgette follows in the footsteps of more esteemed financial commentators such as hedge fund blogger Fintag, who only recently suggested that –

“It is evident that the crash was precipitated by the people under 30.”

Do you agree? Would more of the over 40s really have prevented this? Or would they have been too busy sipping Merlot and worrying about school fees to have made a real difference?

Comments (28)

  1. I have worked in this industry for 25 years and in the past 10 I have most certainly seen a wave of unscrupulous young people turn up with little aim other than to make a quick buck. The City used to be about relationships and long term value creation and this is what we need to rediscover in the rubble of what we recently created. I suspect that many of the greedy short term behaviour will disappear naturally when people realise that the City isn’t a passport to quick money out of university.

  2. yes blood itz yo homeboy dizzee ere…who dis idjiot petar baguete…i worksz in trayding and u need to be angry wit testotezone other wize, rude bwoys tink u iz week and next ting u know u got capped by some rude bwoy wit a glock…

  3. Could you please remove the second comment that has been posted above. I do not wish to see comments written by lower class people posted on eFinancialCareers.

    Sarah – Why did you allow this comment to be posted?

  4. Banker – I was under the under impression that it was a parody.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  5. Sarah,

    It is very unlikely to be a paradoy.

    There are many “humans” who speak and write in a way similar to what is illustrated by the second comment. Given that this is an English speaking website and the comment is not written in any world language, would you agree that it is appropriate that the comment be removed.

    Further, by allowing the posting of such comments you are, effectively, suggesting that we are happy to invite the lower classes to contribute to the debates posted on eFinancialCareers. Of course, we do not support that view.

  6. Banker. We are an inclusive and open community which embraces all people who work in financial services, even if they really aspire to be rap stars. Admittedly this comment doesn’t contribute an enormous amount to the debate, but i believe there’s a message in there somewhere.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  7. “We are an inclusive and open community which embraces all people who work in financial services, even if they really aspire to be rap stars.”

    I agree. However, why should you accept postings to an English speaking website which are not written in English?

    As an editor of a publication, you should appreciate this requirement.

  8. Banker, u r way more offensive than the person who posted above. Get a sense of humour man.

  9. “We are an inclusive and open community which embraces all people who work in financial services”,

    Well that is a huge mistake to begin with

    When oh when will we all stop trying to be inclusive and aspire to be exclusive again.

    What is wrong with seeking to purge the riff raff element that have recently invaded decent society

    Everywhere I go I am confronted by this new model proletarian. The middle and upper classes have given much. Are we better off for it?

  10. Can we not stick to the subject?

    ‘Young men have ruined the City’


    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  11. Can we not stick to the subject?


    In order to remain focused on the topic, we need to ensure that the comments posted are written in the English language. Otherwise, not only do such comments serve as a distraction, but they invariably evoke an emotive response, which may not relate directly to the topic, from other readers.

    And I agree with Louis Cyphre. We need to make this website exclusive, not inclusive!

  12. Sarah, I think by making comments above, both Banker and Louis have shown that ignorant young men are still prevalent. Silly little boys

  13. Ian,

    Your suggestion is incorrect. I request that you offer one credible reason why people who cannot write English should be allowed to post to an English speaking forum?

    See if you can answer that question. After you’ve thought about it, you might want to read the last sentence of your comment again. It might be more applicable to yourself than you think.

    Now go get me a coffee.

  14. I answer yes to the question.

    Everyone is looking for a scapegoat and it just so happens to be bankers. Bankers should shoulder a certain degree of blame. However so should central banks, consumers, borrowers, home owners. I also think the Bush administration, by financing two wars AND simultaneously cutting taxes through two terms did not help either.

  15. Please…before everyone runs off in the wrong direction.

    Young, reckless men, are being blamed unfairly.

    The Financial Industry has become much more reckless over the 35-years I have been trading. but to blame the “young” is a little unfair.

    Senior management, has to take responsibility for the direction and the make-up of our industry. And also the amount of risk and recklessness that has come into the markets.

    We all know that the vast majority of our business is now taken over by “salesmen” whose objective is to increase levels of deposits and improve levels of turnover for employers. That is what they have done, and that is what they are paid to do.

    There is very little time to educate the “young” once they are employed, and recklessness is the first thing they see when they enter any trading room.

    When it proved positive for investors, no one complained. But now we are looking at a crisis, people are getting their names in lights, by pointing fingers.

    We are all responsible for this mess our industry and economies are in. We were all greedy, and we all encouraged reckless investing.

    Are the young responsible? Yes..but so is everyone else who encouraged

  16. yo yo yez blood…who dis banker idjiot not liking me commentz…dis be trayder dizzee
    Or would you prefer if the lower classes spoke the queens english..LOL. Banker your a moron mate. I am truly happy ppl like you exist in the city, as it allows me to take the other side of all your poor gaussian risk managed trades…lol. But back to the topic at hand. The problems of the city aren’t caused by the young. But from greedy I-bank management types using gaussian normal distro curves, that gave BANKERS the false sense of security when they were creating their structured products. These BANKERS created these opaque products promising 8-10% yields when in reality it was all a ponzi scheme…HF are the new masters!!

  17. To be honest, when you look at the real winners in the recent unacceptable behaviour, you’ll find in the majority of cases it was the unscrupulous behaviour of the middle to senior management which, at least, created the atmosphere of greed which permeated down to the lower/younger levels, if not actively promoted it. Surely it was the likes of Madoff who were the main culprits, no by actually going ahead and created billion dollar frauds [hopefully there’s not too many more like him sofar unchecked], but simply abused their perceived experience and positions to create an air of “safety” while all along acting in an aggressive and irresponsible manner.

    How many of the main instigators of the issues in AIG, etc, even back to ENRON and the like, were “just out of college”, “with little aim other than to make a quick buck”???

    Sure, now and again we here of up and coming traders who end up loosing millions if not more on high risk ventures that, apparently, should have been way beyond their actual limits in terms of access, but always there’s a whisper in the background: surely their managers MUST have known about it!

  18. “Or would you prefer if the lower classes spoke the queens english”

    No. I would prefer if people who post to eFinancialCareers.com did so in English.

    Thank you for your assistance.

  19. Banker, maybe it would be a good thing to consider getting off your high horse? You have certainly not contributed a single thought to the topic, but a lot of useless whining. And if you still haven’t been sacked, better go do some work.

    Regarding the topic at hand: banking as an industry important for the whole economic system is certainly not the place to parade yourself. If there were more hard-working, more mature and truly professional individuals in this industry, I believe a lot of the insane excesses would not have happened. And I do not think it is age that governs your level of maturity. Young people are more often than not only the instruments management uses to get their goals accomplished, as Chuck and The Old Man nicely pointed out.

    The crisis is a wake-up call for an industry that could no longer continue blissfully spiralling down. Hopefully, it also learns its lesson well.

  20. I think the blame is not well placed. Most of the time, senior managers and seniors are the ones who led by examples. I’m at mid career and have recently joined a new team where everyone breaking all the compliace/legal/internal and whatever rules are above the age of 35. I cannot criticise them nor can I tell on them but neither do I wish to join them but I guess I don’t have much choice if I want to hang onto a job in this current climate right?

  21. The comment made above my torn only serves to reaffirm the point I have made with all of my posts. Lower class people working in the City is a risk to the stability of the financial system. Lower class does not imply a position of limited means. Rather it denotes a class of persons who choose not to act in a way that is commensurate with their corporate position.

    The person who wrote the second comment, which nobody is able to read and understand, is an example of the sort of person who is responsible for the current financial crisis.

    If you sent an email that contained nonsense even remotely similar to what you posted above, I would argue for you to be dimissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

    So, Analyst, I consider my comments to have contributed significantly to this debate.

    I am pleased to help.

  22. Young men ruined the City? Oh how hard it is to stifle a snigger… quote: ‘that stuff that emanates from the back-end of a horse’: unquote.

    As long as they were raking it in no matter how, the so-called over-30’s were happy as hell to revel in their cut of the profits, since they’d all made their way up the ‘management’ ladder… no wait, that is surely a Nobel Piece Prize statement (as in ‘piece’ of eight, i.e. moolah)… *management* normally includes oversight, transparency, and above all responsibility: in this case all were sadly missing. And it can’t be ignorance, as they’ve all got university degrees, so it can only be termed as arrogance.

  23. Well done Banker you have used your infinite intelligence to work out that it was me and my ilk who caused this current crisis. Yes i put my hand up!!! And yes me and the lower classes do communicate in our nonsensical language over email, helps keep compliance and regulatory morons like you from understanding what were talking about.
    Oh btw my main priority is to make money off the back of fools such as you, not the grammatical structure of my sentences…or would you prefer if yo homeboy speak like dis…peace out blood…Thug life!!!

  24. “Oh btw my main priority is to make money off the back of fools such as you, not the grammatical structure of my sentences…or would you prefer if yo homeboy speak like dis…peace out blood…Thug life!!!”

    I always knew the Daily Mail had a loyal readership!

  25. Well I understood what Anonymous said and got the joke Banker but I have to agree with you, some exclusivity should exist – could start by excluding the likes of you who are still of the impression that you are better than others and have more of the likes of Analyst and The Old Man for being spot on, Anonymous for the chuckle factor and dear old Henry for lunchtime laughs!!

    Say No to Po-Faced Banker Reply
  26. Banker your facade has been smashed.

    I’m guessing you are one of the old grey hair Mgt types who doesn’t really grasp what’s going on around them but wants to ensure they stay atop of the cash-tree by enforcing heirachy based on an unquestioning adherence to seniority (regardless of how clueless they are) & putting the fear of god into the younger staff so they never think about scratching beneath a very shallow surface.

    Fear redundancy like the plague as your sort is incapable of reinventing itself.

    Bankerisreallya……… Reply
  27. Banker, get off your personally erected pedalstool, open your eyes and see life for what it is. So what if ‘anonymous’ decides to post an obviously farcical humorous post in his ‘ghetto’ speak, let him be. We do not all come from an affluent upbringing where we are sent to the likes of Eton, followed on by Oxbridge. Complemented by an old boy network that streamlines our ascension to the world of Banking. Some of us had to fight an uphill battle consisting of many wars, aiming to beat a society that had expected us to fail, which will inevitabely cause such people to be ‘rough around the edges’, i.e. have an un-polished command of the English language which you and many of your ‘brethren’ demand.
    I have met 100’s of managers like you who make their hiring on firing decisions not necessarily on merit, but on who they like the most. Which is often based on how they speak, and their hobbies and interests(i.e. golf/polo/wine tasting/brown nosing). ‘Anonymous’ most likely managed to get into this incredibly competitive industry without an elite upbringing(middle class parents+private/grammar school+parental contacts), it is very unlikely you could do the same.

  28. Also he did add to the debate, he said the problem was due to the assumptions made by many of the risk managers/traders when creating their products(i.e. assuming a normal distribution), which he could thus exploit since they turned out to be incorrect. Which is clearly very plausible, as with the other assumption that credit traders made that houses would never fall much in value so any deficit could be recovered by foreclosing and selling on the market. Also the assumption that from a probability perspective combining low grade and high grade mortgages would not cause a highly correlated shock wave of defaults.
    Anonymous is clearly very intelligent, and true to his ‘ghetto’ roots, as am I. I love looking around the trading floor and imagining toffs like you growing up or trying to live in my council estate neighborhood and envisaging how you would get eaten alive! I leave you with a quote from the late Tupac Shakur: “You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete why it had damaged petals”.
    So go bruv u needz to chillax wiv yah posh boi shiznit b4 we call our homboyz and rush yo punk azz on of deze dayz
    Thug Life.

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