The Quantum Pontiff

Picking on the Quantum Physicists

From this Sunday’s New York Times in an article entitled Wall Street, R.I.P.:

In search of ever-higher returns — and larger yachts, faster cars and pricier art collections for their top executives — Wall Street firms bulked up their trading desks and hired pointy-headed quantum physicists to develop foolproof programs.

Quantum physicists? Come on media get it right. I’m pretty sure those were string theorists who ruined America ;)

Personally I think we should use the association of Ph.D. physicists as the cause of the Wall Street mess to lobby for higher science funding. “Sure you could cut science funding, but then all those Ph.D.s are going to end up on Wall Street and the next thing you know everyone will be on the street stuffing newspaper in their shoes to keep warm.”

Comments

  1. #1 Ian Durham
    September 28, 2008

    And that’s just incorrect to begin with. The physicists (quantum and otherwise) on Wall Street for the most part have been involved in developing stock prediction software and other quantitative prediction work that has little to do with the current crisis which, as we all know, has been driven by sub-prime mortgage lending and other absurdities.

  2. #2 Jennifer Ouellette
    September 29, 2008

    The NY Times perhaps confused “quants” — what mathematicians and physicists on Wall Street doing quantitative analysis are nicknamed — with “quantum.” regardless, it’s silly to blame the mess on the financial analysts when the culprit is primarily unbridled greed and too little oversight….

  3. #3 Andrew
    September 29, 2008

    I’ve been pushing KPOW (Keep Physicists Off Wallstreet) as a strategy to increase science funding over here too. It’s a lot cheaper to give us fifty billion now (who cares what we do with it) than to do a trillion dollars worth of damage. It’s like buying a chew toy for a dog.

  4. #4 Michael Leuchtenburg
    September 29, 2008

    I doubt that they confused quants with quantum physicists. The quants I’ve known have all had PhDs in fields unrelated to finance – math, physics, and so forth. They probably just picked one especially esoteric-sounding quantitative discipline which some quants are expert in as an example to give the text more flavor.

  5. #5 mick
    September 30, 2008

    Are they trying blame the quants for this mess? The only way that they contributed to this mess is by making the market more responsive… The real problem in this mess has been the methods used for assesing credit risk! Geez, it’s the quants who are keeping this thing alive at the moment.