Malcolm Gladwell Deeply Offends Wall Street By Comparing Them To Overconfident Gamblers

If you’re looking to see the collapse of Bear Stearns explained using the British defeat at Gallipoli as an example of disastrous overconfidence, you can do no better than Malcolm Gladwell‘s new piece in the New Yorker. Be forewarned, however, that Wall Street apparently thinks it’s a load of crap.

New York Magazine says:

One bank official commented to me that Gladwell was “full of it,” engaging in “pop science,” and that “you can make sweeping generalizations sound true if you tap the entirety of scientific and literary history to find sources.”

That basically sounds like every critique of Gladwell we’ve ever heard.

What we think is interesting about Gladwell’s argument (that Wall Street is populated with people who, because of their competence in other areas, believe their mastery extends to things over which humans have no control, like the markets) is that it seems to suffer a bit from the hubris it’s attempting to describe.

For our money, we think this this interview with a hedge fund manager is more telling, and this Frontline episode (with John Thain interview!) is more fun.

Wall Street’s Gambling Soul Wounded by Malcolm Gladwell [NY Mag]
Cocksure [New Yorker]

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