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Wall Street’s liquid workers

Fascinating article in Time Magazine about the anthropology of work and how Wall Street sets the tone and structure of work in the wider society.

The headline is that Wall Street workers are liquid workers.

I thought that meant that they drank a lot, but the author of Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street Karen Ho, a Professor with the University of Minnesota, says its more to do with workers who are completely disposable.

"There's constant job insecurity, constant downsizing, constant restructuring, a constant need to retrain to have an adaptable skill set and be flexible. In a sense, job security and stability have been liquidated … 

"What they value is not worker stability but constant market simultaneity. If mortgages aren't the best thing, it's, 'Let's get rid of the mortgage desk and we'll hire them back in a year.' 

"People were working a hundred hours a week, but constantly talking about job insecurity. 

"Wall Street bankers understand that they are liquid people. It's part of their culture. I had bankers telling me, 'I might not be at my job next year so I'm going to make sure to get the biggest bonus possible'."

Does this justify the bonus culture?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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