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“Hedge fund manager” – and other non-jobs

The Guardian recently published a good article on the reality behind public sector “non-jobs”. But one of the comments below it – by “broink” – is well worth requoting for its perfect riposte to TPA non-job nonsense:

“Consider a hedge fund manager. Sounds very useful. What do they do? To someone who had no idea, you might guess that they looked after the money to fund the maintenance of the vital ecosystems in Britain’s hedgerows. But actually the nature of their non-job is that they bet vast amounts of other people’s money on numbers going up or down, ruining lives willy-nilly and making millions of pounds for themselves which they can then squirrel away off-shore so they don’t have to pay any tax. If that isn’t a non-job, I’m at a loss to think what is. Ah, but of course they aren’t employed by local government.”

Any other suggestions for private sector non-jobs?

Posted by Other TPA at 11:33am on 22 July 2010
Tags: Private sector

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They are mercenary financial ronin.  Part of their purpose is to attack.  We need the financial equivalent of the Geneva Convention to protect us against their “financial crimes against humanity”.

Posted by Sasha Clarkson at 12:19pm on 22 July 2010

Great idea. Quick visit to Economist website brings up “senior positions” currently vacant in the London/Brussels-based team “responsible for ISDA’s regulatory analysis and advocacy at European Level, both with EU and national institutions”. The ISDA is the “global trade association representing all participants in the privately negotiated derivatives industry”. No doubt “regulatory analysis and advocacy” means hardball lobbying against any attempt to regulate the kind of OTC derivatives trading that pretty much every observer agrees was a key element exaccerbating the financial crisis.

The ISDA boasts “over 800 member firms around the world and offices in New York, London, Brussels, Washington, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo”. I wonder how many of these are now directly or indirectly dependent on taxpayer financial support?

Posted by Martin at 01:24pm on 22 July 2010

Equity fund manager. Sounds like someone who makes sure all the money is shared out equally right? Wrong, in fact their non-job is to make society as inequitable as possible by betting large sums of money on ordinary people losing their homes, or gambling with the lives of the poorest and starving them as food prices soar - see Goldman Sachs

Posted by Alison Charlton at 01:39pm on 22 July 2010

Thanks for the ideas so far. And, given this site’s automatic quote generator, let’s not forget the TPA’s “Policy Analyst, Public Spending”.

Posted by Clifford Singer at 03:39pm on 22 July 2010

You seem to have missed the point slightly, hedge fund managers work for private firms and many of them successfully make their companies small fortunes, they in turn pay taxes on their incomes and their profits.  Public sector workers work for the state, they are paid for by our taxes so no matter how productive they are they are still a drain on public funds through their wages and their pension benefits.  Hedge fund managers are not.  If they were, as you seem to believe a non-job, then they wouldn’t exist because no private firm would willingly pay huge sums to people who are of no benefit to them. Paying people to do nothing results in bankruptcy which is not an attractive outcome for a private firm.

Posted by Paul Byrne at 03:42pm on 22 July 2010

@Paul Byrne

What you’ve done there is assume that the market economy is both free, rational and good. None of which is actually the case. Hedge fund managers work within a poorly regulated system designed to encourage the movement of capital. The root of their business was genuinely to match funds with business in order to actually create…oddly the market has become the primary focus and the companies traded are almost immaterial, in fact the average hedge fund manager wouldn’t be able to point you to the head offices of most of the companies he’s traded in.

It’s the equivalent of betting on WCW wrestling.

I’ll not even dignify the “they pay tax”, because there are plenty of other non-job accountants out there making absolute piles by ensuring they don’t.

Public sector jobs are tasks deemed necessary by us the population, to be performed by other people we are happy to pay to do it. It is right that we carefully monitor what does or doesn’t fall into this category, but assuming everything public is a drain on the economy betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of both the purpose of the state and any notion of value that cannot be expressed in financial terms. If a really productive doctors saves hundred of lives are they having a positive or negative effect?

It seems political illiteracy is a virtue, and one can happily think oneself a neo-liberal by equating anything to do with the state as evil and anything to do with the individual as sacrosanct. Of course military spending, favourable tax laws, tariff barriers and of course massive bailouts are not “bad state”, it seems the market is only a wonderful thing when it works, when it crashes private finance are worse than the most recalcitrant dole scrounger in demanding state handouts.

Posted by Brian Cheese at 04:21pm on 22 July 2010

Ha, you lefties just don’t understand economics, hedge funds perform the vital task of providing liquidity in markets they also er… well they provide liquidity and that’s really important and it improves the functioning of markets by aiding price discovery which is vital because markets are just amazing. They also make an awful lot of money which obviously means they must be doing something good even if no one can quite work out what it is. Yep, if this country had a few more hedge fund managers and a good deal fewer wasteful public sector non-jobs like nurses, policemen and teachers this country would be a far better place.

Posted by Andreas Paterson at 07:31pm on 22 July 2010

“Communities Secretary” doesn’t sound like the sort of thing we should be paying for. My community can do its own typing and answer its own phones thanks very much. It’s just needless public waste.

Posted by Gwyn at 01:04pm on 23 July 2010

An index of socially useless job-titles would be a good deal more bulky and overpaid than the TPA’s notion of non-jobs, surely?

Posted by Paul Evans at 01:23pm on 23 July 2010

Not only are some private sector professions arguably ‘non-jobs’, as a recent NEF report argues, they actually destory rather than create wealth. Bankers destroy £7 for every £1 created, advertising executives destory £11 of value for every £1 they create, while the worst of all three professions they looked at, tax accountants, destroy £47 for every £1 wealth they create. 


Posted by Ryan at 01:27pm on 23 July 2010

More-or-less all jobs in Marketing and Advertising…
These generally have the aim of peddling socially and environmentally useless products (at best) and at worst actually damaging, using psycological ju-jitsu on the uninitiated (you and me!).
Imagine a scenario in which people just bought what they needed, with no pressure.
Wouldn’t that be a better world? Less destructive to the planet too.
Of course the fat capitalists would not agree with this view.

Posted by Andrew Duncan at 01:52pm on 23 July 2010

Neo liberals are definitley economically illeterate.  Social infrastructure is definitley an economic necessity and most of it is provided efficiently by or subsidised the state.  Roads (to tranpsort goods and people) hospitals to make sick employees better or even better promote good health, schools, colleges and universities to feed the labour market.  What a huge incentive for saay a US compnay to locate in the UK due to the fact that they are never going to have to offer expensive health inusraance schemes because we have the NHS.  Yes lets not have any public services and very low taxes and sure pople would be nominally better of.  But once they paid for health inusrance, education and other service not paid for out of taxes what would be the disposable income to fuel the private sector?  Yes I’m usre bankers wouldn’t bother but the vasy majority would be getting ripped off by the private sector.

Posted by Ross at 02:06pm on 23 July 2010

Paul Byrne:

If a public sector worker is paid £30k to negotiate a services contract and negotiates the contract down from £1m to £750k, is said worker a drain on public finances, or have they just saved the tax payer £250k?

If a public sector worker designs a traffic scheme which saves 10 lives, resulting in a multi-million pound saving to the NHS, are they a drain on the public finances?

If an NHS nurse saves a dozen lives in a year, preventing their contribution to the economy from ending and thereby saving the Treasury thousands of pounds in tax revenue, are they a drain on the public finances?

Posted by Josh at 02:10pm on 23 July 2010

The entire advertising industry: a whole sector of ‘non-jobs’: These people’s only work is distorting the market forces worshiped by neo-liberals by getting rid of any notion of the ‘perfect information’ Adam Smith required for true competition.

Also, all that management consultants do is tell employees whatever it was that their boss was too much of a coward to say in the first place. If that isn’t a non-job, I don’t know what is!

Posted by Adam Ramsay at 02:54pm on 23 July 2010

All lobbyists.

Posted by henry at 03:46pm on 23 July 2010

Part time Mayor of London. Clearly has too much time on his hands for the Mayor post to consititute a real job

Posted by Fi at 04:01pm on 23 July 2010

Security expert-usually trotted out to fill 24 hour rolling news channels when there has been Terrorist Activity.

Posted by cg at 07:14pm on 23 July 2010

That there are useless nonjobs in the private scector is no reason to have them in the public sector.And the public sector ones are paid for by the taxpayer;if private firms want to keep useless people on the payroll,that’s their business.

Posted by mark taha at 12:43pm on 24 July 2010

Paul Byrne:
Paul seems to have both missed the point and misrepresented the facts.

Just because someone makes a lot of many doesn’t mean that they add any value. Nobody is suggesting that hedge fund managers don’t earn themselves and their companies money. The issue is that hedge funds add no value. They generate money for the hedge fund, which would otherwise have gone to those who really add value in value chains, or to consumers. They are making money at the expense of all of us. The taxes Paul claims are to our benefit are taxes that would have been paid where the benefit would have accrued, had the hedge funds not managed to get their cut.

Hedging, on a commodity, for example, adds no value to the producer nor does it reduce the overall cost to the buyer, or eventually to us, the consumer. Hedge fund activity is directly responsible for increasing commodity prices.

‘Money doesn’t grow on trees,’ it is created by the millions of people who make things or provide services. Hedge funds don’t create wealth, they merely grab a part of what others have created for themselves. There is no input, creation of value and output. There is simply a gamble; the use of money to acquire money. Banks similarly add no value. They are a necessary expense for most of us, including most businesses; at least they are necessary.

Another lie is that hedge funds are useful in helping markets understand the true value of assets. All markets eventually value assets accurately. That’s how markets work. Sometimes they work imprecisely and slowly and that’s how hedge funds make their money. All hedge funds do is make a bet and hopefully make a killing by being ahead of the rest of the market. They are not doing a public service at all.
I give an example of what hedge funds are about. An American bank we all know well, packaged and sold toxic assets, knowingly. It also told hedge funds that the assets were toxic and the hedge funds capitalised on this knowledge. An American analyst described it as follows:

It is like a car dealer who has a stock of cars, a proportion of which he knows are dangerous and unroadworthy. To keep his profitability, he sells them in packages onto the market hoping not to be found out. People start getting killed in his faulty cars and he shrugs and shouts ‘caveat emptor’ at the foolish people who stupidly bought these cars. Not content with making money like this, the dealer told a friend about his cunning ruse. His friend, unknown to the buyers, then took out life insurance on the owners and families of the people who bought the cars. This friend then proceeded to pocket the insurance from each death. Of course Paul would justify this, because, of course they all made a profit. Collateral damage…. so what?

Finally Paul seems to have no understanding about public servants and the services they provide. I pay taxes for services and public servants provide them. It’s no different from buying a private service other than the method of payment; via taxation. Whether the public sector is efficient or not is a matter of debate but the value they provide is real; real doctors, nurses, roads, pension provision, armed services, police etc. Hedge funds provide no value, just private profit at the expense of all of us. It is possible to have highly efficient private companies delivering best in class services and yet the outcome to the consumer is poor value. As evidence, I give you the American health system.

Posted by B White at 04:23pm on 24 July 2010

“if private firms want to keep useless people on the payroll,that’s their business. “

If you really don’t imagine the socially useless non-jobs in the City aren’t paid for by all of us, I suspect you may have had your head buried somewhere for the past few years Mark

Posted by Paul Evans at 05:17pm on 24 July 2010

Given the way that mergers and acquisitions often destroy value in companies rather than create it….

....can we add anything to do with this socially useless activity to the list of non-jobs as well?

Posted by Paul Evans at 05:24pm on 24 July 2010

@Andrew Duncan

Hear hear! I work as a Marketing Manager, which means I’m paid £30,000 to email friends, read the Independent website and buy myself stuff on amazon. Even when I am doing ‘work’, it is not of any measurable benefit to my company or anyone else.

Posted by Sarah Quaine at 01:37pm on 26 July 2010

Are non-jobs the socially useless ones, the people who persuade you to buy things that you don’t want or need by developing brand awareness, or disturbing your elderly relatives in the middle of the morning to try and sell them insurance on the phone? What about the vampiric jobs in the private sector - the people who lobby governments to rig markets and state budgets to drag ordinary people into a life of debt, then bet on those debts, then lose their bets, then lobby the governments again to impose two to five extra years of working life on entire working populations, to pay off the vampires’ debts? I’m not sure if they would really meet the TPA definitions of non-jobs, since they require so much work.

Posted by Eddie Thomas at 12:12am on 3 August 2010

Great ideas so far - keep them coming and I’ll compile them. Ties in with our vision for a better Big Society too, eg pay people to manage parks but get volunteers to run banks - thus solving the problem of bonus distortions.

Posted by Clifford Singer at 11:05am on 12 August 2010

Clifford - I’m loving the ‘pay people to manage parks but get volunteers to run banks” thing - I have though for a while that The Big Society is a great solution to the wrong half of the economy - don’t use it to smash the welfare state, use it to dismantle corporate monopolies. Excellent.

On the non-jobs theme, how about estate agents? They’ve spent years encouraging us to see a house as a gambling chip rather than a home. Facilitated by that other non-job, mortgage salesmen/women, they helped bring our economy to it’s knees, and everyone hated them already.

Posted by Adam Ramsay at 11:32am on 12 August 2010

How about the guy who dreams up the Tory slogans such as,“We can’t go on like this…” when what he meant was,“We can’t be conned like this…”...His latest effort is,“Labour’s Legacy…” What a job!

Posted by Grant Ford at 05:15pm on 12 August 2010

Thought Leadership Manager - no this is not a joke! I have been working in the private sector for the last twenty-six years. There is great deal of greed, stupidity and waste. Simple dogmatism that is incapable of accepting the value of most public sector jobs will not move us forward.

Posted by Paul Seomore at 09:39pm on 12 August 2010

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