Finance isn’t all bad, at least not according to renowned Yale professor and
Nobel Prize winnerRobert Shiller.
In a debate titled “Goldman Vs. Google: A career on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley?” at The Economist’s Buttonwood Gathering, the esteemed economist argued
that young graduates with a “moral purpose” and interest in the financial world should work for Goldman Sachs instead of Google.
“When you study finance, you are studying how to make things happen, on a big scale, on a lasting scale,” Shiller said. “That has to matter more than getting into Google and programming some little gimmick.”
The way Shiller sees it, finance underscores every worthwhile pursuit. “Every human activity that matters has to be financed,” he explained. “You cannot do good things for the world all by yourself.”
Not surprisingly, his claims were hotly contested by the other speaker, Vivek Wadhwa, vice president of innovation and research at Singularity University. Google, Wadhwa argued, has already given us immense research capabilities and is working on groundbreaking technology with its self-driving cars and floating wireless networks.
“Would you rather have your children going and cooking up the financial system, engineering the financial system, and creating more bubbles for us?” Wadhwa asked, incredulous. “More bubbles like the ones my esteemed friend is famous for? Or would you rather have them saving the world?”
“It’s a binary thing,” Wadhwa added. “I can’t even believe I’m having this debate with a Nobel Prize winner.”
Shiller may have indirectly addressed Wadhwa’s concerns when he began his talk.
“My assumption is that I’m not talking to students who want to make a lot of money,” joked Shiller.
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