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U of M professor reveals Wall Street insider culture

March 25, 2009

Wall Street bankers are not in the good graces of the American public these days. Between billion dollar buyouts and bonuses for employees of bankrupt firms, taxpayers are just as confused about how we got here as they are angry with those responsible. But a University of Minnesota professor who has studied the people and culture of Wall Street may have some answers:
Karen Ho, University of Minnesota assistant professor of anthropology
Its all about groupthink and overconfidence says Ho. With Princeton, Yale and other prestigious degrees hanging on firms office walls theres a mentality of superiority. As was seen with Merrill Lynchs fatal first rush on subprime securities and other firms following right behind, banks are notoriously competitive and believe their own hype. Ho also explains how the sole focus on short-term gains, a custom that started in the early 1980s, has hurt Wall Street and even bled into the corporate culture.
Ho is the author of the upcoming book, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Based on three years of research immersed in Wall Street fieldwork,
including working for a bank, she reveals the dominance of financial culture and how it has spread across America and set the stage for financial crises. 
To interview this expert, contact the University News Service, (612) 624-5551.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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