From Divided Answers

Books, Crises, and Random Contemplations

I’ve been reading more lately than I have generally managed in recent years. I recently finished George Soros‘ new book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets – The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means. I found it rather lacklustre, though it did get me thinking and reignite much of my interest in some core economic theories. I’ve even been reading some journal articles just for the hell of it. So, if I gained nothing else from Soros’ writings, then at least I got to read some interesting articles.

I’ve just started on a new book, though I expect it to take me quite a while to get through. The End of Charity: Time for Social Enterprise by Nic Frances.
If I gain nothing else by reading this book, then I’ll have retaught myself the general principle that one should not buy a book on the strength of its title alone. The opening chapter was bland and dull at the best of times. Though clearer and more fluently written than Soros’ piss-poor effort, it has still meandered across the countryside, failing to present a solid picture.
I should probably reserve judgement until I have read more than one chapter.

I’m not sure if it’s simply the current relevance, or a result of my recent readings, but I’m discovering that I do in fact have some interest in the theory of financial markets. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if my disinterest was a result of my first real exposure to financial theories.
First and second year macroeconomics looked at financial markets without ever actually teaching us anything about them, so my first real exposure to the relevant theories was the third year course – Money, Banking and Financial Markets. I’m not sure if it was because the lecturer was painful to listen to, or because I was somewhat out of my depth (having a mere smattering of economics courses under my belt at that point – barely the core first year courses, and only some of the core second year courses), but I really hated all the theoretical crap of the financial markets.
Part of me also wonders if it was because I had so many intuitive problems with the models we studied. (Models I’ve gone on to look at off my own back and those that I was exposed to in third year core theory seem to take many of my intuitive concerns and bring them in to the fold).

Regardless of the source, I now find myself with a keen interest in the financial markets. I don’t expect it to last. My interests rarely do. In the meantime, I hope that it will make for some interesting reading.

I’ve been rethinking my plans for the future over the last couple of months. At first it was just a desire to avoid returning to a student’s income coupled with a thorough enjoyment of my job. Recent changes at work, and running out of big new things to learn (at least in the immediately foreseeable future), are decreasing my desire to stay with my current employer in to the future. I still thoroughly enjoy the job, I’m just quite aware now that I will outgrow this particular pond sooner rather than later.
At some point in the future my desire to move through things at a fast rate is probably going to catch up with me and cause me some problems, until then I guess I’m stuck looking at areas where I can actually progress at a rate that I’m happy with. In other words, I should probably learn some patience somewhere along the way.
Returning to the rethinking of plans, I’m now thinking that there are perhaps better ways to accomplish my goals than going full-speed towards a PhD and a life in the comfortable halls of academia.
Firstly, by all accounts working for the University would drive me rapidly insane. As much as I tend to enjoy playing around with a bit of bureaucracy, the University takes it to extremes. And those extremes seem to strip the ability to do good, or act efficiently straight out of the equation.
Secondly, I’m beginning to think that I’m more interested in working in an executive or director type roll than I am in working anywhere else. I’m also inclined to think that my particular mindset and set of natural talents is better disposed towards that sort of work than towards academic research.
Thirdly, I would be able to meet my financial goals more readily outside of academia.

On the other hand, economics is cool.

Either way, I’ll still be looking at undertaking honours in 2010, so I guess it doesn’t really matter at the moment.

Okay. Now that I’ve rambled on about nothing in particular for several hundred words, I’m going to wrap up with a short list of a couple of things I’m working on (or plan to work on) for either here or Integrated Questions. With a bit of luck, I’ll have them all up before Christmas.

* A response to George Soros’ new book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets – The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means. In a nutshell, I’ll be arguing that Soros comes very close to unveiling a brilliant idea, before veering wildly off the road and into a nearby tar pit. Also, he needs a better editor. And a better ghostwriter.

* A friend recently started posting a personal manifesto of sorts on her blog. Her first instalment convinced me that I should stop talking about doing the same and actually just start doing it, as a living document of course.

* A short piece of vitriol regarding the especial importance of sticking to one’s principles in times of crisis or stress.

I would be most appreciative if any of my (six – according to Google Web Master) readers would poke me in to actually posting those pieces.

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