Financial Farce

Posted in economy on April 11th, 2009 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Financial Farce

This article tells a tale that takes the reader from quotidian irrationality to laugh out loud disbelief. This is a story about the chutzpah of another Madoff-like schemer named Marc Dreier – a narrative of fraudulence so over the top a made for TV movie will have to soon be in the works – after they make the one about Madoff. The histrionic behavior, the befuddled high rollers and/or equally nutty players – who could make this up? Dreier’s story was overwhelmed by the stats circling the Madoff story – so much more money involved with Madoff’s fraud.

How exactly did Dreier juggle all these commitments – the huge debts falling due, the art acquisitions, the frenetic attorney hirings, the manic partying, the accelerating pace of the larcenies?…The chronicle reads like a cross between Crime and Punishment and a door-slamming Feydeau farce.

Financial Theory and Art Theory

Posted in art, economy, ideas on April 10th, 2009 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Financial Theory and Art Theory

This article about why things devolved in the financial sector reminds me of what is wrong in many academic discussions about art:

What seems most novel is the role of opacity and pseudo-objectivity. This may be our first epistemologically-driven depression. (Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and limits of knowledge, with how we know what we think we know.) That is, a large role was played by the failure of the private and corporate actors to understand what they were doing.

Science has status these days. Financial types sought credibility by “scientizing” their schema. It is Jacques Derrida, as one example, whom are talking about here, but transferred to economic theory. Derrida used scientific terms to obscure, not clarify – an intellectual nihilist really; he tried to hide the simple-minded quality of his ideas. The result of such dissociated thinking, in the financial sector, had an equally nihilistic effect.

A good deal of our current economic travails can be traced to this increasing valuation of purportedly objective criteria, so denoted because they can be expressed and manipulated in mathematical form by people who may be skilled at such manipulation but who lack “concrete” knowledge or experience of the things being made or traded. As Niall Ferguson has put it, “Those whom the gods want to destroy they first teach math.”