Knock-on Effects, Part 2

Written two weeks ago-ish, just after the downgrade. 

We live in a world of terror and wonder. To wit: this article.  Here’s me, reading a sensible-seeming non-radical non-wacky financial news site– mainly b/c the WSJ makes you pay to actually read the articles– and in all solemnity I am told that, given the rise in the price of gold as basically one of the few remaining good bets now that T-bills are officially risky, a really good investment coming up is going to be Odyssey Marine.  Which hunts for sunken treasure.

Among Odyssey Marine’s assets, apparently, is the location of the wreck of HMS Victory (not Nelson’s flagship.  Another one), “lost during a fierce storm,” according to the article, in 1744.  Odyssey is negotiating salvage rights with the UK.  I really think that one of the most wonderful things about this brave new financial world of ours is the fact that it allows sobersides finance journalists to write clauses like “lost during a fierce storm.”

This is the second time in the last week or so that two of my job-worlds have intersected.  The first time was when, last week, I mentioned to one of the candidates who came through the Wall Street staffing agency where I am temping part-time the fact that I also work part time as a deckhand on a schooner in New York Harbor, a quarter-mile and a world away from my Wall Street office.  And this kid– I don’t remember his resume, but I kind of assume he was one of the dozens of finance-and-accounting grads we see, who decided to major in finance in like 2003 when that was a completely reasonable decision– this kid gets a kind of haunted look in his eyes and asks if I could get him a job on the boat.  At least for a moment, at least for this one kid, being a tall ship sailor seemed like a better career move than getting a job in finance.

This from  is basically pointing to the same idea.  “Need a job?”  says the teaser on the main page– “Become a petroleum engineer.”  In recent months, has advised its unemployed market analyst readers to a) Run away and join the circus; b) Move to Japan, or c) Ask the Church for help.

It’s just astonishing.  Who would have predicted the fate of all those college freshmen who, between, say, 1993 and 2003, decided that the sensible thing to do would be to major in finance and accounting?

A Patrick O’Brian fan’s heart… cannot but be conflicted about this.  Unemployment is horrible; I don’t wish that on anyone.  Not using your degree is frustrating.  But…did they all really feel a call to the derivatives markets, all those kids, as one feels a call to the sea?


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