Friday, February 7, 2014

Mathew Martoma = "Triple Package" + Sociopathy

The extent of Mathew Martoma's fraud at Harvard is almost farcical. The fact that someone like him (born Ajai Mathew Thomas) could succeed in high finance tells you something about high finance. But, it also tells you about the toxic brew of individuals with high intellectual competency but low moral compass. These are far more dangerous than garden variety sociopaths, because their success is contingent upon eating away at the fabric of civil society.

But another aspect hinted at in the story is the role that pressure driven Asian immigrant cultures play in incentivizing this sort of behavior.* To be frank I suspect many Asian immigrant parents might be able tolerate a little corner cutting if their child could make it to Harvard. Naturally when you have someone with sociopathic tendencies like Martoma that tends to be interpreted as carte blanche toward a success-at-any-price mode of operation.

Of course culture is not destiny. The man prosecuting Martoma is himself a 1.5 generation Indian American.

* This sort of problem also crops up in corporations where all rewards are based on outcomes. In which case there is a strong incentive to cheat the system.