Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let the Physicists Fix the Economy.

 
Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles has an interesting idea on how to fix the current economic crisis. He thinks all traders and financial wizards should be fired because Physics Can Fix This.
And, seriously, do you really think that these transactions are too complicated for physicists to figure out? We're talking about people who have spent the last several years thinking about folding and twisting strings in eleven dimensions. Unless the transaction records are all encrypted in some private cipher, they'll have no trouble figuring it out. And even if they are encrypted, that will only slow things down a little-- given what we know about the rocket scientists on Wall Street, the cipher key is probably written on a Post-It stuck to the computer. With a magnet.

Better yet, they'll be cheap. We're talking about theoretical physics grad students and post-docs-- most of them are currently working for less than Vikram Pandit spends on shoes. The pre-bonus salary given to a typical financial executive is more money than they can reasonably expect to make in their current line of work. It'll be a major blow to the over-priced restaurant industry in lower Manhattan, but they'll rebound once they learn to mark up Ramen noodles a thousand percent.

And best of all, we don't have to worry about them getting greedy and wrecking the entire global economy in order to make some short-term gains. We're talking about people who, to this point, have completely sacrificed their financial well-being in pursuit of higher mathematical truth. They're used to working toward the long-term success of abstract goods.
Sounds good to me. It can't possibly be any worse.


3 comments :

  1. It doesn't look OK to me though. Why would physicists be immune to corruption?

    Personally I think part of the problem is that the stock exchange is the biggest Pyramid Scheme on the planet. Going back to basic economics, any increase in value of stock has to be due to an increase in income of a corporation. The stock market as it is allows people to bid up the price of a stupid piece of paper (or worse still, a piece of data on a computer) without any real gains in productivity or income.

    Now for corporate executives - again, going back to basic economic principles, in general *any* employee must contribute a value to the company in excess of what they are paid - otherwise the company is not profitable. Anyone who does not pull their own weight is a mere parasite. The only justification for 'line managers' is that they resolve conflict and help maintain profitable levels of productivity. Some positions exist largely to comply with government regulations (safety inspector, etc) and though they are technically parasites, one can still make valid arguments for their existence.

    So: how many CEOs with multi-million dollar salaries actually bring in at least as much money to the corporation? My guess is: exactly zero. Put the bums out on the street; let them get a real job flipping burgers for a clown. These people are not worth 400-6000 of their employees. People object to my suggested method of testing: shoot the bums; if they company was in good shape but goes out of business the next week, then you possibly made a mistake.

    I think the fundamental problem is that people accept too much BS and simply refuse to make their brain cells work.

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  2. LOL. Once physicists fix the economy, lets make sure them smart guys displace greedy lawyers and stupid doctors.

    Sheesh. Even for a tongue in cheek post from a physicist, that post sounded infantile.

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  3. And, seriously, do you really think that these transactions are too complicated for physicists to figure out? We're talking about people who have spent the last several years thinking about folding and twisting strings in eleven dimensions.

    Sure, your typical physicists can handle eleven dimensions. They tend not to be so good at the details though, like tying their shoes or putting their pants on over their underwear.

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