Jostling for position amongst the many explanations for the current crisis is this new one: that the finance sector started going off the rails when the smart guys turned up in Wall Street, previously the preserve of some pretty mediocre minds. (It’s an NYT subscription piece but you can see it for free via this link.)
There’s a great Dilbert cartoon where Dogbert the Evil says to the boss: I can show you how to loot this place and escape. Dogbert was clearly one of those bright fellahs. And they’ve been looting all right: US chief executives were paid 344 times the average worker's wage in 2007, against 42 times in 1980, and the bankers weren’t stinting themselves in the process.
Flippant though it sounds, I’d say this observation has some explanatory force. It is absolutely clear that Enron made a mint out of the utterly dozy utilities by being altogether smarter (not difficult) – candy from a child - and the whole Enron episode looks now like a dry run for what the Wall Street Smarts did at the expense of, well, almost everyone else, really.
What do you think ? Good explanation, or glib observation ?