Michael Lewis has a long piece in Portfolio called "The End of Wall Street's Boom" that I highly recommend. A recurring theme in the piece is that Wall Street financiers just aren't as smart as everyone thinks they are. I couldn't agree more. Virtually no press account of the financial crisis is complete without paying homage to how smart the financiers who got us into this mess are. (Usually the homage is paid by referring to the "financial wizards on Wall Street," or asking how "some of the smartest people in the world" ended up being so terribly wrong?") Wall Street's perceived genius has reached almost mythic proportions, especially among clueless pundits like David Brooks and Sebastian Mallaby. I was never terribly impressed with the overall level of intelligence on Wall Street when I worked there in the '90s. But since returning to Wall Street (or more accurately, Greenwich/Wall Street) a couple months ago, I've been shocked by how many utter morons there are now in financial houses and hedge funds. I've encountered more than a few traders who, when pressed, reveal a very meager understanding of their own product. The one area that seemed to attract genuinely brilliant people back in the late '90s and early '00s was risk management. But no more. Risk management departments are now disproportionately populated by spoiled Harvard legacies with no apparent intellect. All the genuinely smart people I knew on Wall Street back in the day seem to have moved on to hedge funds or retired. I'm not saying there aren't any brilliant people in the big financial houses (there are), I'm just saying that they're the exception rather than the rule. More generally, though, I think the current financial crisis pretty well demonstrates that Wall Street financiers aren't, in fact, "some of the smartest people in the world." I wish the media would put that ridiculous myth to bed.