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Red-Blooded Risk: The Secret History of Wall Street by Aaron Brown

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CHAPTER 4

The Secret History of Wall Street: 1654–1982

We're going to switch for a bit from theory to history. If I had all the theory worked out, I could write a textbook organized in logical sequence. Instead, I'm going to intersperse theoretical discussions with accounts of the development of the ideas. Different aspects are easier to understand from different vantages.

The rocket scientists came together on Wall Street in the 1980s and began the process that eventually explained the modern concept of probability and reconstructed the global financial system. We were not individually ambitious. All we wanted was to make more money than any rational person could possibly spend, without ever putting on a tie or being polite to anyone we didn't like. We didn't have any use for the money, except for maybe some books and cool computer equipment. We didn't want to throw (or go to) fancy parties or buy political power—and we didn't spend it on cars, jewelry, or places to live, and least of all on clothes. We'd probably give the money away, but until then, it would give us the power to say “fuck you” to anyone, except that we were mostly pretty soft-spoken and civil in our expressions.

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In recent years, I have received inquiries from researchers studying this period, and no doubt someone will put together a comprehensive history. I will be interested to read it, to see how others perceived ...

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