Ray Dalio, moral realism, and Economic Man

Interesting article in the New Yorker a few months back about Ray Dalio. 

Basically an effort to make him seem weird and like many insanely successful people he is. Bill Gates…Jobs, whoever. The also try a liberal argument I find dumb. “What social purpose do hedge funds serve, you evil man?” 

And his correct answer is adequate enough. It is capital allocation and that is just a fact about how the world works.
The problem however is that providing a utility service, while necessary, isn’t exactly on anybody’s moral wish list.
Virtue usually comes from providing others tremendous value for little in return. Sacrifice. And these guys are not convincing that their huge wealth resembles the poor rewards of dead soldiers or great school teachers or the guy who cured AIDS.
There is another problem in the Dalio world comes from the cognitive model.
These guys are rationalists. Fine. The model they have is that emotion is bad. It screws up your reasoning every time. That is wrong in general and probably wrong in the specific case of their work. For example it is probably easier to tell if someone is lying by intuitive methods like looking into their eyes than by trying to fact check. And folks are probably talking to each other about important stuff in their work. See my post a couple days ago about the Kahnemann book, for example.
What they do have is a Milton Friedman style theory of rational action — for their society and for the organization. This is what those Harvard undergrads were protesting when they walked out on Ken Rogoff a while back.

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