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How Do Hedge Fund Managers Justify Their Existence?

Feb 3, 2022

Megan Tobias Neely is a sociologist whose book Hedged Out: Inequality and Insecurity on Wall Street takes a deep look inside the world of hedge funds, those small boutique investment banks that play with a sizable chunk of the world's wealth. Neely's book draws on her observations from time working in a hedge fund as well as from dozens of interviews with professionals in the industry. In this conversation, we discuss:

- How hedge fund managers justify their value to society and why there are reasons to doubt them

- The internal culture of firms and how they resemble feudal kingdoms

- Popular myths, such as the idea that the "only thing that matters is whether you make money for investors" and "the firm is horizontal and non-hierarchical" 

- How people with degrees in astrophysics and artificial intelligence find themselves using their skills to make money for rich people rather than doing what they love

- How super-wealthy men convince themselves that their decisions are based on objective reason when they are often based in stereotypes and prejudice

- How a savvy actor with access to capital can actually take advantage of these blind spots through "perception arbitrage"

The Bloomberg article by Matt Levine that Nathan cites is here. The review of Ray Dalio's Principles is here

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