A Displaced American Quant Reflects On Those Enterprising Immigrants
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May 09, 2004, 05:00 AM
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May 09, 2004

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From:  Displaced American Quant

I was interested to read the information on Those Enterprising Immigrants: One Story. I also had a similar experience as a quant/programmer in a large commercial bank in NY where Lincoln Kahn`s Indian roommate could possibly have worked. I was recruited into the bank from a PhD program in business by an American manager in the bank.

What I had found disappointing about my PhD studies was that the field of quantitative research was centered on quite frivolous theoretical expositions of managerial decision making. It seemed far from any relevance to actual business application.

At the time, I thought this possibly the result of the field being dominated by immigrant Indians and Chinese, who had little experience in working in an American corporation. In fact, they had no experience of capitalism per se—having climbed the rungs of socialist academic bureaucracies.  As a result, they had become proficient in the politics of such bureaucracies, which helped them immensely in the US academic culture. But the phenomenon was self-replicating.

Older American academic business people had an appreciation of useful research. But they were now giving way to tenured immigrant researchers.

I did not fault my immigrant colleagues for their proclivities. After all, it would perhaps be impossible for them to ever fully understand North American culture, so different from their own culture of arranged marriages and post-colonial command economies.

It was natural for them to avoid meeting actual business people who inhabited this strange and foreign world. And again, why make the effort? They were quite capable if producing numerous tracts that appealed to their academic colleagues who had mostly all graduated from the same type of socio-economic background.

Even more interesting, there existed ethnic clusters of research. Indians would review and cite the work of their Indian colleagues. Departments tended to become Indian or Chinese, but not both—unless a large American majority held the balance.

Indians and Chinese clashed as they competed to fill the next academic appointment with one of their own, until one side won out. Americans were usually not considered for these appointments on technical grounds, since their papers generally were more applied and less to the tastes of socialist educrats.

On the other hand, American professors tended to gain a far bigger share of business consulting projects. Business clients required business relevancy.

But sometimes an Indian or Chinese would run the consulting contract. Then they would tend to farm out business to their cousins in academia.

Really, this is not surprising. Europeans went through centuries of familial and ethnic capitalism in the medieval period. It lasted a lot longer than our own brief period of competitive capitalism. HBO`s The Sopranos evokes this history, as unscrupulous businessman refer to "our friends" in New York or New Jersey.

You could call it "mafia capitalism." It is an effective method of gaining wealth—especially in a state with a corrupt public sector which can allocate wealth along political lines rather than through competitive markets.

But the final result for American academe is inefficient output, with lower-quality research from an overall point of view, even though individual actors are maximizing their own utility.

Well, I observed this in academia and left the PhD program to enter the world of business. But, as time went by, I observed that in business, too, American researchers were abandoning the hostile fields of programming and quantitative finance to move into trading and sales where socialist politics and ethnic favoritism and conniving were not an issue.

When I finally left the field, in one of the largest American banks, I was the last remaining American standing.

Interestingly, I did see a lot of low-level Americans still working in back and middle office functions where PhD level training was not required. They made a good if not impressive living, and were generally supervised by the new immigrants.

But it seems perfectly predictable in hindsight that the new immigrants would strive to outsource these functions to their cousins in foreign lands. They could benefit on the human resource front from placement fees, while increasing their position within the banks through impressively lower costs and improving their ethnic toehold within the organization.

Concurrent with these trends was the issue of intellectual property.

I recall a visit of a high level Chinese diplomat to New York. He met with both CEO of the bank and also with a Chinese middle manager who happened to lead the Chinese Finance Association, a networking group dedicated to increasing job opportunities for Communist Chinese (no Taiwanese need apply). It was rumored in the bank that the Chinese researchers would steal the expensively-produced risk management code of the bank when they left the institution to share with other members of the Chinese Finance Association, as also with their headquarters in Beijing.

Luckily for us, Chinese or Indian theories of how to run a modern bank faced market discipline. As a result, they still tend to be clustered in the regulatory bureaucracies of risk management, rather than in actual portfolio decision-making.

There is probably a biological model that applies here. First, we encounter an infection of academia which has the least amount of defense to a foreign socialist ethnic insult. The insult is viral since it takes over the central DNA decision-making function.

The infection spreads from the periphery of academia to central systems of high technology and banking. The metabolism is altered as emphasis on valued-added function is replaced by the appearance of value. Hence the implosion of the high tech bubble, which was all about the culture of apparent value rather than actual cash flow.

The cost of American technologists grows, as they seek higher compensation for working in ethnic enclaves with the constant threat of ethnic outsourcing and insourcing. This results in higher importation of ethnics and further exports of functions to mid-tech sweat shops overseas. Along with this, technology is transferred and compromised.

The body, although sick, still functions and even the virus does not want to kill the host—not right away anyway. Instead, sickness progresses.

VDARE.COM is romantic in thinking that this can be reversed with attention to the original foreign source of infection.

It`s already deeply embedded in the central organs. One solution is to encourage the use of existing civil rights laws to fight discriminatory practice by South and East Asians, while increasing shareholder power to return American corporations back to competition. It is really the existence of bureaucratic quasi-monopolies which allows this to flourish and fester.

Their mindset goes along way to explaining why China and India, with so many smart scientists and engineers, cannot make a decent car or computer, while most of their population lies mired in malnourishment, disease, and extreme poverty.

But this too is the fate of our children and grandchildren, if the virus goes untreated.