Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time

A stunning conclusion from the Kauffman Foundation by way of Mass High Tech:
The financial industry’s dizzying growth prior to 2008’s credit crisis may have stifled entrepreneurship by stealing talent that otherwise would have gone to innovative new companies.

That’s the conclusion of a new Kauffman Foundation report, which found that the financial industry recruited scientists, mathematicians, and engineers from graduate schools to create new financial instruments, such as the collateralized debt obligations that led to the financial crisis.

"Their talents have made them well-suited to the design of these complex instruments, in return for which they often make starting salaries five times or more what their salaries would have been had they stayed in their own fields and pursued employment with more tangible societal benefits," the study stated.

"Because these new hires are often the very individuals who otherwise would have comprised the most robust pool of prospective founders of high-growth companies, the financial-services industry’s steady rise has had a cannibalizing effect on entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy," said Paul Kedrosky, the study’s co-author and a Kauffman senior fellow.

At MIT, for example, nearly 25 percent of all graduates went to work in the financial sector in 2006, up from 18 percent in 2003.
File under: "Engineers blow things up."

Full report available at the Kauffman Foundation.

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