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Once upon a time there was a setting of relationship finance practiced between neatly stratified teams of jolly fellows (partners with skin in the game) who traded (as much as they traded financial instruments) lively ethical bon mots straight out of Horatio Alger stories around the Good Scout campfire. Each of them felt like a member of a family in their firms, and the warmed-over feelings flowed like glowing marmalade between them. There seemed never a conflict between fiduciary duties to make maximum profits for firm owners, and a willingness to endlessly bend over for counter-parties in arm's-length deals who, after all, in this wonderland of loyalty and bonhommie all around, had relationships that never ended. How wonderful it must have been to survey this landscape where resources were allocated around the richly set dinner tables without the faintest stain of actual competitive pressure. It was (the myth usually recites) that way, if not in old J.P. Morgan's day, then, post-Depression when financiers again had neat silos of privilege fenced off (this time) by New Deal regulations. WAKE-UP CALL: something called later 20th century history happened. It disrupted markets from the inside out, top to bottom, adding energy, if certain new instabilities. That fond older vision (if it existed) unraveled for everyone just like it unraveled for the dinosaurs and the endlessly well-employed horses of the 1800s. So why are we back gazing with wet eyes at this glowing postcard of a bygone day, that couldn't be reconstructed any more than the dinosaurs' habitat could be? Well, some people are just weepy-eyed sentimental. They love to recite at great length their feelings about the caring captains of industry they served with (goes the rhetoric). Oh, please. One cannot drive at full speed with eyes too exclusively and weepily on the rear view mirror. And here, the narrator has a perfect forlorn wistfulness to go with it. I'm concerned with these topics, as a teacher of ethics. I choose a different approach. And, large parts of this book for me are indistinguishable from Charles D. Ellis' earlier history of GS. It had a lot of this sort of tone too, with a bigger (if slightly earlier) historical sweep.
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