A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism

A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism



The Pequod Review:

What is the opposite of a coming-of-age novel? That is what Peter Mountford has written with A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, which chronicles the descent of an intelligent young man (Gabriel de Boya) as he abandons his ideals and takes a high-paying job with a nefarious hedge fund. Mountford is a very good writer, and some of the scenes when Gabriel witnesses his former classmates making more money than him after college ring especially true: 

Money, in general—the plain and unassailable acts of acquiring and spending it—had turned out to occupy a more important role in adulthood than he’d expected. The issue finally wasn’t that he wanted to be rich, per se, but that he wanted to be done with so much wanting. It was a feedback loop, and the only way out was deeper in: he needed to have enough money to be done with the issue of money forever.

Unfortunately, the rest of Mountford's story becomes a lazy and facile criticism of a "rapacious" hedge fund that intervenes in Bolivian presidential politics in order to increase the value of its investments. This narrative may work for readers who already believe in the inherent unscrupulousness of high finance, or who lack awareness of what most investment firms actually do. In fact, few hedge funds actually have the power to obtain proprietary and market-moving information on foreign elections (and certainly not ones with only $1.5 billion of assets under management), and fewer still have the power to do anything that would actually manipulate markets. More significantly, most of what passes for investment research at financial firms is painfully boring. I guess that would make for a much less exciting novel though.