Vantage point

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Highly Politically Incorrect Post

First Bear Sterns collapsed. And now Lehman has filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch has sold itself. Most of the world is looking at these events as the collapse of reliable and crucial investment banks. But there is a small subset of people (of which I am one), who are thinking of these events in a different way. These people are the MBAs in non-investment-banking and even non-financial-sector jobs, who are saying "Ah.... those Day Zero bastards are getting what they deserve". I am not proud to entertain such thoughts. But I can't help thinking them.

You see, in MBA courses all over the world, those seriously vying for, and landing I-banking jobs, are like the cocky quarterbacks in the typical high school movie. They are the "cool studs", the ones who are universally considered "gods", and are profiles by newspapers, especially in India, as the ones with a six-figure-foreign placement. As if to rub it in the faces of other "commoner" MBAs, Indian newspapers love to convert the dollar/pound salaries into rupees and report them as "crore-plus" packages. The rest of us meanwhile, get jobs in sales, marketing, IT, operations, HR, etc etc.... which still pay pretty well, give us a cushy lifestyle, and more or less shettles us in life. But that resentment exists.

Now of course, this resentment towards the I-banking-types has two possible sources, not mutually exclusive - one, that they actually are dickheads who are arrogant, snooty, and look down upon others, and so deserve to be kicked when they are down; and two, that they are actually just smart folks and hard-working, who got the right breaks they deserve, so envying them is the work of petty and churlish minds.

Whatever the case might be, and whatever the validity of the resentment, one thing is for sure. 95% of the MBAs in the world, even as they are publicly shaking their heads at the downfall of these investment banks and bemoaning the resulting stock market meltdown, are chuckling privately and thinking to themselves - "Hahhh.... that asshole who was preening around for landing a job in Lehman must be clearing out his desk and updating his resume right now. There IS a god!".

And yes, I am one of them. And again, I am not proud of feeling what I feel. But it is a cheap thrill I thought I would never experience.