Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From Derrida to Derivatives

It will be interesting to see if securitization becomes a bad word just like "theory" did at some point in time, while its tenets and practices continue to proliferate, even as they call forth literalist backlash. Indeed, I have to wonder if there's a genetic or causal relationship between the rise of theory and the subsequent universalization of securitization. Both really took off in the eighties, but securitization got more and more abstract as theory got sort of corraled and beat down into little ghettos, even as many of its thought patterns flowed out into the mainstream press via the relatively hip journalist crowd. Securitization and the various theory schools (deconstruction, feminism, new historicism) etc. are famously jargon-ridden, opaque, and slippery, but also draw out analogies you wouldn't think of and, once you ponder it, just plain old make sense. Sometimes.

But one commentator, Frank Partnoy of San Diego, has built a career on saying that what the Wall St. of the 90s forward has done is make things so complex that purchasers can't understand them, but buying them made them feel au courant. Retail consumers who bought complex and ill-suited mortgages also felt deucedly clever, until they got bit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Derivatives were created by the same con artists who used to define what being cool was in high school. The only individuals able to accurately gauge the value and risk of derivatives are the snake-oil salesmen who peddle them to rich saps who don't know any better.