Monday, November 22, 2010
Low rent, real return
This article, subtitled Much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless is well worth the read. As new and experimental music all too frequently gets placed in a similar category (heck, by- the-book Marxists will dismiss it as superstructure — and an insignificant fraction thereof, at that — so we're pretty much used to getting disrespect from all sides), it's a bit refreshing to see the captains (and admirals, and commodores) of finance in the light of their costs and benefits to society. On balance, I think, new and experimental music comes out looking pretty good in comparison: we produce something real, if a perishable good — sound waves do dissipate — and our rent is, in real terms, cheap. But that small investment in a musical good has proven potential, if very tiny, to provide returns for centuries. Next time you join some friends to sing some Josquin, just think: Wall Street, which of your recent investments is going to be paying off like this in 500 years?