In his piece End of the financial world as we know it, there’s an interesting paragraph on the long and short of Wall street’s interests:
“OUR financial catastrophe, like Bernard Madoff’s pyramid scheme,
required all sorts of important, plugged-in people to sacrifice our
collective long-term interests for short-term gain. The pressure to do
this in today’s financial markets is immense. Obviously the greater the
market pressure to excel in the short term, the greater the need for
pressure from outside the market to consider the longer term. But
that’s the problem: there is no longer any serious pressure from
outside the market. The tyranny of the short term has extended itself
with frightening ease into the entities that were meant to, one way or
another, discipline Wall Street, and force it to consider its
This balance of short and long term is no different from other balance that gets talked about a lot – Work/Life.
There’s no easy answer to solving either balance problem and I’m not sure solving it is going to get people happy either. Trouble is that the “balance” is mostly self determined. One person’s short term is another person’s immediate term and so on.