[Marxism] Surviving Goldman Sachs

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 6 07:44:12 MDT 2010

(Sounds like a good interview for Doug Henwood.)

Why founding a three-person startup with zero revenue is better than 
working for Goldman Sachs.

by antonio on 23. Jul, 2010 in Grandiose Propositions

The road to serfdom

I joined Goldman Sachs in 2005, after five flailing years in a physics 
Ph.D. program at Berkeley.

The average salary at Goldman Sachs in 2005 was $521,000, and that’s 
counting each and every trader, salesperson, investment banker, 
secretary, mail boy, shoe shine, and window cleaner on the payroll. In 
2006, it was more like $633,000.

Don't read this book. It will ruin your life.

In the summer of 2005, I took one look at my offer letter and the 
Goldman Sachs logo above it, another look at my sordid grad student pad, 
and I got on a plane to New York within the week. I packed my copy of 
Liar’s Poker for reference.

My job on arrival? I was a pricing quant on the Goldman Sachs corporate 
credit trading desk1. We traded credit-default swaps, both distressed 
and investment-grade credit, and in the bizarre trading experiment 
assigned to me, the equity part of the corporate capital structure as well.

There were other characters in this drama. The sales guys were complete 
tools, with a total IQ, summing over all of them, still safely in the 
double digits. The traders were crafty and quick-witted, but technically 
unsophisticated and with the attention span of an ADHD kid hopped up on 
meth and Jolly Ranchers. And the quants (strategists in Goldman speak)? 
Mostly failed scientists (like me) who had sold out to the man and 
suddenly found themselves, after making it through two years of graduate 
quantum mechanics, with a bat-wielding gorilla peering over their 
shoulder (that would be the trader) asking them where their risk report was.


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