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Skilled at working around the system

From Flash Boys, an excellent story about high-frequency trading by Michael Lewis:

Constantine was also Russian, born and raised in the small town on the Volga River. He had a theory about why so many Russians had wound up inside high-frequency trading. The old Soviet educational system channeled people away from the humanities and into math and science. The old Soviet culture also left its former citizens oddly prepared for Wall Street in the early twenty-first century. The Soviet-controlled economy was horrible and complicated but riddled with loopholes. Everything was scarce; everything was also gettable, if you knew how to get it. “We had this system for seventy years,” said Constantine. “People learn to work around the system. The more you cultivate a class of people who know how to work around the system, the more people you will have who know how to do it well. All of the Soviet Union for seventy years were people who are skilled at working around the system.” The population was thus well suited to exploit megatrends in both computers and the United States financial markets.

Reminds me of Yugoslavia and post-war Croatia.


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