What should I ask Matt Levine?

by on January 3, 2018 at 1:26 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, History, Law, Web/Tech | Permalink

Yes, the Matt Levine who writes for Bloomberg.  The “the only greeting you need is “Only you can do what you do!”” Matt Levine.

That one (not the other one).  I’ll be having a Conversation with him, so what should I ask?

Did you know by the way that Matt can speak Latin?

1 BJ dubbS January 3, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Why does James Simons get such fawning press coverage when the Senate has issued a well-documented report demonstrating that James Simons doesn’t pay his taxes. And considering that Matt Levine is as qualified as anyone to report on Rentech’s abuse of the tax system, how come he’s treated the story with a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


2 Jpe January 3, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Rentech’s basket options are the sort of engineering I’d think Levine would enjoy as an aesthetic matter.


3 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:21 pm
4 Dan G January 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm

At what point do you realize it is time to move on from a topic (i.e. how many identical columns about blockchain before you get sick of it).


5 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:22 pm

If you write a daily column on the news that is a hard question to answer. If it keeps coming up, I keep writing about it, within some limits. (And remember that not all of my readers are reading every day so I cannot assume they’ve read what I wrote before.) A general rule is I probably get sick of writing about it before you get sick of reading about it, but that is not always true.


6 A clockwork orange January 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Can 2-dimensional graphs ever be considered 3-dimensional oblique projections?


7 Paul Langley January 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Is human capital in the US allocated as efficiently (for society) as financial capital? Is there a trade off and if so where are we on the curve?


8 Matt January 3, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Which is higher: the proportion of investment bankers who could hack it as journalists/professional writers, or the proportion of journalists who could hack it as investment bankers?


9 Justin January 3, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Who does he read on a regular basis?
Why is finance so different from every other industry (structure / culture / regulatory)?
How does Bloomberg compare to Dealbreaker?
Did going to yale law improve his human capital more the the best alternative?
Aside from your current, what has been your favorite job?


10 Daniel January 5, 2018 at 2:01 am

Corollary: Did Yale Law School live up to its reputation as a home of useless, wooly-headed theory where you don’t actually learn any law (or anything else useful)?


11 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Oh yes, very much so, it is wonderful.


12 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Who does he read on a regular basis?
I am bad at answering this question; I read everyone on a regular basis, it’s part of my job.

Why is finance so different from every other industry (structure / culture / regulatory)?
There are answers here but one very important thing to say is that people — in the industry but especially outside of it — vaaaaastly overstate how different it is. It’s a job, it’s in an office, you come in every day and type on a computer, you try to manage your bosses and sell stuff, etc. etc. etc. A lot of what is written about finance would be self-evidently absurd if it was written about e.g. the fertilizer industry; that usually means that it’s absurd.

Did going to yale law improve his human capital more the the best alternative?
Than the best realistic alternative, sure, insofar as I was a confused 23-year-old and Yale Law is a very effective way to get credentialing without knowing what you want to do. In general going to law school is not optimal unless you want to be a lawyer, though it worked out fine for me.

Aside from your current, what has been your favorite job?
Clerking for a federal appellate judge is [100 emoji][100 emoji][100 emoji], very highly recommended, though it depends on the judge. (Mine was the very best judge though he is now deceased.)


13 ant1900 January 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

I read Matt daily. I don’t think I’ve seen him write much about bubbles. Is he in the Summer/Fama camp (no bubbles), Asness (incredibly rare), or Shiller (everything is a bubble)?

“Bloomberg is the most unbaised news outlets because it’s incentive is to efficiently deliver accurate and succinct news to expensive terminals for active investors to trade on. The website is just a cheap way to generate ad revenue on the same information.” Agree or disagree?

Why does Bloomberg even have columnists? To the extent he knows, how much are the columnists read via the terminal?

How much of the activity we see around cryptoassets and ICOs is due to unicorns remaining private, lack of IPOs, and individual investors lack of access to private markets? Should the SEC make it easier for retail investors to access private equity and venture capital?

How much of the decline in volatility is driven by investors getting smarter (or to put it another way, due to all the dumbest investors simply buying an index or using a robot advisor)?


14 Jon S January 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

+1, these are good questions for Matt


15 sheep January 3, 2018 at 2:54 pm



16 Jim January 3, 2018 at 8:57 pm



17 Alain Hamel January 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

“How much of the activity we see around cryptoassets and ICOs is due to unicorns remaining private, lack of IPOs, and individual investors lack of access to private markets” — What?


18 ant1900 January 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Unless you are an “accredited investor” and, as a practical matter, unless you have the appropriate personal contacts, you cannot invest in private equity or venture capital funds. Effectively you can only invest in public companies. And on top of that, fewer companies are going public or only do so after they are quite large (and have delivered the largest upside to the early private investors). (Large private tech companies are sometimes called “unicorns.”) You can’t buy early stage Uber in the same way that previously investors had access to Amazon, eBay, Netflix, PayPal, etc.

So for the individual investor locked out of those markets, investing in an ICO might scratch that itch. ICOs probably shouldn’t be available to non-accredited investors, but SEC enforcement has been quite slow.

The question for Matt is whether there is a connection between the lack of IPOs and the frenzied demand for unregulated ICOs.


19 ChacoKevy January 3, 2018 at 6:29 pm

As an index investor, I resent your accurate characterization of me.


20 aMichael January 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm



21 ant1900 January 3, 2018 at 7:14 pm

The smartest investors index and always have!

But there is a lot of dumb money that has historically invested actively. The dumb money might be more prone to the over- and under-reaction behavior that drives booms and crashes. So if over time the dumb money becomes smart by indexing more and timing less (think 401(k) auto-enrollment and auto-investment in target date funds), then we may be seeing less violent swings in the market.


22 DB January 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Who is the best Harvard undergrad valedictorian, Yale JD Bloomberg columnist – Levine or Noah Feldman?


23 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:31 pm

I think Noah obviously did a better job with those materials. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, Supreme Court clerk and named professor at Harvard Law, come on.


24 jseliger January 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Did you know by the way that Matt is fluent in Latin?

In that case, ask him something about whether Rome could have had an Industrial Revolution or about Kingdom of the Wicked.

Also, what Latin words or concepts are we missing in English?

What do Latin speakers get about ancient Rome that non-Latin speakers miss? What do Latin speakers get about Middle Ages high culture that non-Latin speakers miss?


25 Tom January 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

“Did you know by the way that Matt can speak Latin?”
With whom?


26 enoriverbend January 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Temporarily lost on my first trip to Paris, age 16, with no French, I tried to speak Latin to a priest to ask for directions. He gave me the strangest look and then brushed me off almost angrily. Finally back at the hotel, I realized he thought I was speaking the most execrable French he had ever encountered[1].

Only time I tried to speak Latin to a stranger.

[1] Of course, I’d learned classical pronunciation and he undoubtedly spoke ecclesiastical….


27 Jeff R January 3, 2018 at 1:59 pm

What parts of our capital markets and/or the financial services industry in general have a social utility that is zero or negative, in his opinion?


28 carlospln January 3, 2018 at 10:43 pm

How big is the global derivatives market?



29 DB January 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm

I have several friends who participated in the Paideia Institute’s “Living Latin” program in Rome. It’s a thing among a certain kind of classics nerd (who are often, though not always, very Catholic). Seemed like a good time for those people.

I personally always thought seeking out opportunities to speak a largely dead language was a weird waste of time (and I studied Latin for a number of years and can read it pretty well).


30 DB January 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm

this was intended as a reply to Tom, above.


31 Tom January 3, 2018 at 2:24 pm



32 BigLawyer January 3, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Would he still go to law school today? Would he take a different career path?


33 Tristan January 3, 2018 at 2:47 pm



34 Ash January 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Overrated or underrated:

-“law & economics”
-news bureaus
-judicial clerkships
-the finance industry


35 Ben January 4, 2018 at 10:15 pm



36 abe January 3, 2018 at 2:32 pm

You must live in the USA, but you cannot live in a major US metropolitan area. Where do you choose to live? Why?


37 GeeJayEye January 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm



38 Lawrence West January 3, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Wall Street/SEC questions like these:

Are there huge bets being made on Wall Street that could end in something like the CDO/MBS/financial crisis debacle?

If you were running the Division of Enforcement at the SEC right now, what would you be telling your people to concentrate on?

Is the SEC dysfunctional?

Post Madoff, is the SEC doing a better job with whistleblowers?


39 Alain Hamel January 3, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Or perhaps (given that I read Matt):

Does the SEC perform any useful economic function?


40 Tristan January 3, 2018 at 2:48 pm

What drew you to majoring in classics?


41 Jeff R January 3, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Perhaps it was the classics.


42 GeeJayEye January 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

Isn’t the Bloom off that particular rose?


43 shrikanthk January 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Is speaking Latin such a big deal. How difficult is it for someone who speaks fluent Italian?


44 Scott Mauldin January 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Fairly difficult; it’s quite different. Italian has lost an entire gender (neuter) and all indications of grammatical case on nouns, which were an immensely robust an integral part of classical Latin. Conjugations were significantly different and entirely more complex in Latin, with forms like the Supine that have no correspondence. Italian also saw a large influx of Germanic vocabulary, though less than Spanish or French did.


45 ptuomov January 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm

What feeds or sites does he read regularly to produce his column ideas?

How does he deal with his fan mail? There must be much. And of course, hate mail, too.

How does he balance his coverage between interesting vs. important? For example, IEX (interesting) vs. public pension plan accounting (important).


46 v5 January 3, 2018 at 6:34 pm



47 Jpe January 3, 2018 at 9:03 pm

I’d imagine he gets a fair amount of hate mail that uses the term “bankster.”

Off-topic: I read a decision recently (on PWC’s blown / allegedly negligent audit) in which the judge unironically used the word “fraudster” repeatedly. Ugh.


48 A clockwork orange January 3, 2018 at 11:10 pm

—The sea’s arch is lessening, the tide is curried, Arturo continued, —the tusk-peels and the cat-ions had their endonym broken.
—How do you mean? Augustin asked.
—Look, some hydrophone companies been distilling sound emissions


49 Tex January 3, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Should insider trading be legalized?


50 Aye Que January 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm



51 Zach January 3, 2018 at 6:40 pm



52 Moelicious January 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm

How big can indexing get before we have a problem?


53 Matthew January 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm



54 Ray January 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Have you ever worked at Goldman Sachs or attended Harvard Law School?

But seriously, ask him how much he makes and how he was able to decide to walk away from possible law firm or GS partnership?


55 Ben January 4, 2018 at 11:00 pm

N.b. he didn’t attend Harvard Law School (a second-rate law school). He went to Yale.


56 Dan Egan January 3, 2018 at 3:04 pm

If Matt was barred from (officially) practicing law & writing, what would he do?

What stories/issues does he think aren’t getting enough coverage and why?

Who does he admire as a writer on hard topics? Who is under-followed as a writer?

What is his favorite restaurant?

Does he own any crypto currencies?


57 Matthew January 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Ask him about his days at Dealbreaker and how they shaped the way he writes today.


58 carlospln January 3, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Is Andrew Ross Sorkin really as big an unctuous, snivelling, brown nosed sycophant as he appears?


59 Anon January 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on, that you don’t usually write about. (Stolen from Peter Thiel). Some of us like when


60 A clockwork orange January 3, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Ask why your grin is so saturnine? And if it is, is that a paradox or an oxymoron. And if its a paradox, than how can the thatness of your saturnine smile be expounded upon in a way that refreshes the prevailing definition smiles indicate happiness and so on, and so forth.


61 Daniel January 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Matt is someone who comes from a different perspective and his writing often causes me to reexamine my biases (he writes often sympathetically towards wall street in a way that cuts against my liberal knee-jerk all bankers are evil priors). Which writers does he read that differ from his perspective and make him rethink his positions?


62 fallibilist January 3, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Why do otherwise intelligent commentators want to #MintTheCoin?


63 Andrew Martin January 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Because otherwise “intelligent” members of Congress insist on an arbitrary debt ceiling, risking a US default (and the global financial system) for no good reason.

(In other words, no need to bother Matt with this one.)


64 amartya sen January 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm

How did ringo starr’s development as a drummer conspire to promote the challenger disaster.


65 msgkings January 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

It was the root cause! Have a listen to the drum solo on Abbey Road side 2, it’s pretty obvious.


66 Olaf January 3, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Is his absolutely uncanny ability to boil down any financial transaction or news item into its most elementary, atomic and true form, to articulate their basic functionality in just a few words, something he has always been gifted with or did he develop/train/nurture this in any way? When did he first become aware of this remarkable ability?


67 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:35 pm

To the extent that that exists it actually *mostly* comes from working on a weird corporate derivatives desk at GS, where:
1. We built complicated things, so we had to understand complicated things.
2. We sold them to people (corporate CFOs/treasurers/etc.) who were smart but not experts in the complicated things. (Versus a public-side derivatives desk where your counterparties are derivatives traders.) So we had to be able to explain the complicated things in simple and catchy ways.
3. The value proposition for the buyers was often not economic but tax/accounting/legal/etc., so we were exposed to a wide range of regulatory-arb-type reasons why people do transactions.
4. To the extent the buyer’s value proposition was economic, *the economic story that they understood was different from the one by which we made money*. This is not like “we were lying to them,” it’s more like “a corporate with a directional view makes money differently from a dealer who dynamically hedges,” but that understanding of the nuances of how financial trades work and create value is very useful and oddly hard to come by.


68 Olaf January 8, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Thanks – that’s interesting!


69 Nice N January 12, 2018 at 7:08 pm

Matt- is there anywhere you could point someone to to start learning about how to pull apart the complicated things like this? Books on how to start thinking and recognizing these things? I’ve skimmed a few on structuring derivatives in trying to understand what are the fundamental atoms that go into building/understanding finance.


70 rayward January 3, 2018 at 4:12 pm

He speaks Latin? Does Levine believe it was a mistake to translate the Bible into English (from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew). The Catholic Church objected to the translation, preferring instead that the Bible be read and interpreted only by those fluent in Latin (the language of the Church). William Tyndale, the translator, completed his translation of the New Testament but only about half (including the Pentateuch) of the Old Testament (which was completed by Miles Coverdale). Tyndale failed to finish his work because he was burned at the stake for the crime of heresy (the translation being the heresy). I mention this because Latin then and now is accessible by only a few, including it seems Mr. Levine. I would assume that Cowen can read Greek, a must for anyone who reveres the ancient Greek philosophers. Levine and Cowen speak the same language, so to speak. Does Levine speak the language of Leo Strauss, another language accessible by only a few. I assume Levine, like Cowen, can be trusted to keep the secrets, and that neither will be burned at the stake like poor Mr. Tyndale. Latin, Greek, it’s all Straussian to me.


71 msgkings January 3, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Don’t post drunk, ray.


72 rayward January 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Point well taken, for I should not have assumed that Cowen reads Greek. Latin maybe, but not Greek. We will know if Cowen conducts his interview with Levine in Latin.


73 Mark Thorson January 3, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Is the U.S. stock market currently in a bubble?


74 Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar January 3, 2018 at 10:20 pm

ce stress de la mer n’est pas sain


75 Thor January 3, 2018 at 4:32 pm

What works in the field of classics have “stayed with you”? Do you re-read any of them? What ancient author(s) did you / do you favour?

What is more perplexing, the rise of cryptocurrency or the edicts of the Delphic Oracle? Ok, that was an attempted joke.


76 Matt Levine January 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm

To what does he attribute his unmatched comic sensibility? Some recent highlights from Matt – you can’t eat a blockchain – Levine include


But I assume, given the dispute, that Mulvaney will show up at the CFPB this morning, and he and English will have an awkward speed-walking race to be the first one to get to the director’s office and sit in the big chair, and it will all be a little farcical. But there are other ways this could go. If I were English I’d be thinking about flanking moves. You know Mulvaney will show up at the CFPB. That means he’s leaving his office at OMB unoccupied. She should show up there and try to take over the OMB.

Our government is so stupid.


And of course,the best shitpost of 2017, from the opening segment last month:


“”I saw that letter Danny Mulson wrote to you,” she wrote. “The Whole School Saw It. You need to know that Danny Mulson NEVER tells you everything he just tells you what HE wants you to know.””


77 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Thanks but this was not me.


78 Jason January 3, 2018 at 4:51 pm

What’s the most efficient way to tax wealthy financiers, taking into account their expected tax avoidance strategies?


79 Adam January 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Has becoming a father changed your approach to work?


80 Attila Smith January 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm

“Did you know by the way that Matt can speak Latin?” Rara avis in terris: plaudite, cives!


81 Alex Douglas January 3, 2018 at 5:27 pm

“Latin mottos. Overrated or underrated?”


82 Attila Smith January 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm



83 Zach January 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

How does he decide what sounds interesting to write about?

This is a particularly good question for Levine, because he ends up writing a lot of recurring features on subjects such as People are Worried about Bond Market Liquidity where other writers might struggle to write even one article.


84 Moelicious January 3, 2018 at 7:11 pm

How to raise children who aren’t academically gifted


85 Jerry G January 3, 2018 at 7:56 pm

what is his favorite insider trading story?


86 Kalim Kassam January 3, 2018 at 8:17 pm

What’s the best thing he read (or re-read) in Latin in the last 5 years?


87 Colin January 3, 2018 at 8:25 pm

You mock the serious types in your “People Are Worried About Bond Market Liquidity”, but what does it say to you about the state of the markets, that you now have a class of people dedicated to acknowledging crisis risks, who never seem to have much to say?


88 Matthew Young January 3, 2018 at 10:13 pm

How did he learn to laugh at finance?


89 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:36 pm

“By reading Bess Levin” is mainly the answer.


90 Phil_King January 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Which ancient civilization is over/under rated?
Are we in ‘Thucydian Trap’ today w/China – is that concept overrated?
Given his love for animals, dogs especially, does he eat meat and how does he view that issue? Best breed of dog or should we just adopt mutts?
On the Supreme Court – is the politicization here to stay will they be worse? best supreme court roster and/or individual judge? best footnote in opinion? pitch me the virtue of Scalia, Thomas (or any otherwise unfavorable justices).
Should we try to get rid of ‘legalese’? How to write clearly but not so dry/technical?
Footnote vs endnote
Can you link Italian culture to their innovative banking tradition?


91 Steinlein January 3, 2018 at 11:00 pm

He was the Harvard valedictorian, went to Yale Law School, worked at Wachtell Lipton, and worked at Goldman Sachs. It is like a checklist of the markers of conventional prestige. It takes a certain kind of person to do that. What is that person?

Then, he became a columnist. It also takes a certain kind of person to do that, after the path he had previously taken. What is that person?


92 freethinker January 3, 2018 at 11:04 pm

As someone who appreciates the classics and can even speak Latin, would he advocate state funding for the study of classics if the market does not support them?


93 Thomas January 4, 2018 at 7:22 am

Why do his Bloomberg View articles get so few reader comments relative to other contributors?


94 Andrew Martin January 4, 2018 at 6:15 pm

A big reason is that he generally stays out of partisan politics.


95 Gill Potter January 4, 2018 at 7:39 am

Why are footnotes so important to him?

Maybe a good over rated or under rated question.


96 Mike B. January 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

Should I be worried that Matt isn’t worried that people are worried that people aren’t worried enough?


97 Andrew January 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm



98 Ben January 4, 2018 at 10:57 am

Venn diagram, two circles, partially overlapping: “What Matt thinks is interesting,” “what Matt thinks is important.”

Please explain what area in the diagram makes it into the newsletter.


99 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Let’s have three circles: Interesting, Important, and About Finance. (Where “Finance” is taken broadly to include a lot of tech, business, crypto, blah blah blah stuff.)

100% of the Interesting/About Finance overlap makes it in. It’s my newsletter!

Outside of that overlap:

– Maybe 20% of Important/About Finance [but not Interesting] makes it in, though that is hard to measure. Like whole vast swaths of macro stuff seem very important, but I have nothing much to add, so they’re in Things Happen if at all.

– Maybe 1% of Interesting/Important [but not About Finance] makes it in. I try to avoid wading into the big cultural and political issues of our day outside of my specialty, though I guess there are some exceptions.

– Maybe 2% of Interesting [but not Important or About Finance] makes it in. I cannot resist food-marketing sociology, for instance.

– Certainly 0% of Important [but not Interesting or About Finance] makes it in.

– Some non-zero but small amount of About Finance [but neither Interesting nor Important] gets in, though only on slow days and I try to avoid it.


100 MEP January 4, 2018 at 11:19 am

Is it possible to create an index that tracks whether people are properly or improperly worried about bond market liquidity? At what price would it currently trade?


101 Ita Ryan January 4, 2018 at 11:23 am

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


102 George January 4, 2018 at 11:37 am

(Also a HUGE Levine fan, read him every day.)

Do you ever experience editorial interference in your column?
Michael Lewis — love him or hate him? Why?
What’s your favorite economics-themed book, and why?
What’s the worst question any interviewer ever asked you?

REALLY looking forward to this Q&A!!


103 Lorenzo January 4, 2018 at 11:40 am

When is he going to write a novel? If he already has under a pseudonym, what is it called?


104 AdismalStalker January 4, 2018 at 11:40 am

Have you ever used a Thomas Malthus avatar online?


105 teemster January 4, 2018 at 11:45 am

If you woke up tomorrow, someone calls you up and says “Matt, the bottom’s fallen out of the world financial system” what’s on your short list for being responsible? Be creative, extraterrestrial invasion preferred.


106 Jeff Cole January 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

How would you change the judicial interpretation of insider trading to improve evenness of enforcement and fairness?


107 Gary January 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

Which sector exhibits greater rent seeking – finance or social networks?


108 Jeff Cole January 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

What happened on his Bloomberg TV appearances that largely confine Matt’s pithy observances to print?


109 George January 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

What are his favorite strip-mall ethnic restaurants?


110 Aaron January 4, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Also a longtime reader of Levine. I have two questions for him:

1) Why did he decide on practicing M&A instead of litigation? Did the experience of clerking make him more or less likely to pursue litigation? I know his interests are largely finance and market-structure, which superficially fits M&A, but there are a lot of litigation practice fields that deal with finance and market-structure. I am contemplating between litigation and transactional work, and curious why Matt chose one over the other. Matt’s ability to write clearly and break down complexity seems perfect for litigation (just reading his articles on insider trading cases makes me think he would have more fun writing those briefs than putting together deal binders)

2) How does/did Matt find his work meaningful as a lawyer, banker, or columnist? As a new lawyer, I notice most of my peers are not enjoying the work they do. The ones that do enjoy their work, tend to find their practice area intellectually stimulating. I, fortunately, find my practice area intellectually stimulating, but I (often) do not find it meaningful. I know meaningful is vague, and people can derive meaning outside of work, but I am wondering if Matt ever struggles/struggled with working at jobs that intellectually excite but do not feel fulfilling.


111 Matt Levine January 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm

1) M&A just seemed kind of fun, whereas litigation at big firms seemed like spending decades on discovery disputes. This is not always accurate — M&A often means spending years on due diligence — but in my experience it worked out incredibly well. My M&A experience consisted of negotiating agreements and advising clients. I think if I had spent another decade negotiating M&A agreements I would have found it more boring and less meaningful but for the amount of it I had it was a great learning experience and fun.

2) I found my work as a lawyer enjoyable, and “meaningful” in some restricted sense (it mattered, to a degree, for the deals I worked on — I wasn’t curing cancer). I found *less of* my work as a banker stimulating; the highs were higher but there was relatively more rote pitching and execution. I love being a columnist because it is a pretty direct reflection of my own interests/skills/personality, though I do not pretend that writing about finance on the internet is all that meaningful in the grand scheme of things.


112 test January 4, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Does this work

Check check


113 Ockham January 4, 2018 at 2:37 pm

(1)Your usual question about a person’s “production function” will be especially interesting with Matt Levine.

(2)How long did it take for you to find your natural style of writing?


114 Ockham January 4, 2018 at 2:40 pm

One thing you think people aren’t thinking about but should. (something that almost no one in the media has bothered to cover, and hence has been mostly left out of your usual newsletter.)


115 Rob January 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Is using LinkedIn ironically like writing the daily “people are worried about ____” section because it offers deniability without isolation (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattlevine2)? What is his opinion of social networks in general?

For somebody who writes about law and finance, Matt writes a lot on information security. Is it just fun to examine the seams of the cloth, like with market structure, or does he have a particular interest in computers and security?

What are the greatest legal innovations in his lifetime?

What are the greatest financial innovations in his lifetime?

Are law and finance rentier industries?

What is his economic philosophy and which famous economic philosopher, or amalgam of philosophers, most closely aligns with his view?

Are newsletters underrated or overrated? Have we hit peak newsletter?

If Matt was offered a book deal without terms, what would he write about?

Would Matt accept a position in government and what position would he be most likely to accept (administration aside)?

What is one under appreciated and one over appreciated thing about living in New York City?

Why should people study classics?

How did he feel about his time living in Philadelphia?

What about law, finance and consulting makes them the holy trinity of Ivy League job seekers? Is tech changing that? How would adding a fourth sector change the equation?

You give shout outs to other writers often (Alex Scaggs, Elaine Ou, Isabella Kaminski). What do you like about these writers (besides that they write about finance)? Any others you’d like to acknowledge?

For research purposes, Tyler, you may find the reddit AMA he did useful: https://www.reddit.com/r/badeconomics/comments/6cnzs8/matt_levine_of_bloomberg_view_ama_starts_on_524/


116 Pedro Vogt January 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

If you had to get rid of all current financial regulations and institute one big and simple (ish) rule all financial firms had to follow, what would it be?

Do you think the SEC spends too much time and effort going after insider trading? How socially useful is insider trading enforcement?

Is it fair to say generally that if it is legal for someone to disclose some information it is also legal to trade based on that information? (not that your answer would be legal advice or anything)

What is the generalized misconception about finance that irritates (or amuzes) you the most?

Do good active managers exist and should they be worried about passive investing?

Do you really believe that financial innovation could get us in a world similar to socialism – i.e capital income is generally distributed somewhat fairly among a broad group of investors?

Do you believe that there are some sub-set of services/products that are better provided as “descentralized applications running on crypto-assets” rather than “things a private company does for profit”? If so, shouldn’t we view bit coin et al as a social R&D expense?


117 anan January 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Matt reads and writes about blockchain and cryptocurrency almost daily, yet, has chosen not to personally invest in any crypto. What is your reason behind staying on the sidelines?


118 Drew January 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm

As a non-journalist who appreciates how “current” (to the hours) Money Stuff is, pardon the naivety, but what does a typical day look like? Are you up extremely early to write each day’s column? Do you build a catalog of interesting but not pressing stories to supplement the day’s big stories (to allow you to work ahead)? Do you have a staff to support your work? How long does it take you to write the average Money Stuff?


119 Andrew Martin January 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm



120 JR January 5, 2018 at 5:06 pm



121 James Cham January 4, 2018 at 6:00 pm

You should ask about the Matt Levine bot: https://twitter.com/MattLevineBot


122 Conor January 4, 2018 at 7:35 pm

How worried is he about bond marked liquidity?


123 FE January 4, 2018 at 8:49 pm

What would a better SEC regime look like? For example, would the public be better served by an SEC that focused on educating investors (i.e., advising them to buy low-fee index funds), instead of leveling the playing field via disclosure?


124 CFPB Q January 5, 2018 at 12:03 am

What should the CFPB’s highest priorities be over the next few years?


125 Tony Poulos January 5, 2018 at 4:24 am

Did Matt study with Louis Menand at Harvard?

(I ask because Matt’s critical style is very similar to Menand’s—which is not a good thing in the opinion of people like David Bromwich.)

How much does Matt love Richard Rorty, who was himself a mentor to both Louis Menand and David Bromwich.


126 G January 5, 2018 at 9:29 am

Which books did Matt read in 2017 that he particularly enjoyed? What is he reading now?


127 Rob January 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

When will we see the return of toy spreadsheets?


128 Phil January 5, 2018 at 12:29 pm

What classes (or ideas / approaches) in law school did he find most helpful for his work in finance, or which he would recommend for others in the business world?

What are his major influences – whom does he admire in law / economics / philosophy?


129 Fiduciary AF January 5, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Did the launch of Gadfly (and what I assume was management’s efforts to differentiate View from Gadfly) constrain his use of models and terminal screenshots? or was it just that things he found interesting in finance/markets didn’t require as much of his banker skills?

Has the compensation or evaluation structure changed in the last year or so at BBG View that has resulted in a dearth of non-Money Stuff original content, or is it just a function of financial markets providing fewer items of interest to pique his interest?


130 Flowbe209 January 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Does he read the comments to his articles?

What in the world happened to Matt_Levine’s_Dog aka Dog Reference Bot?


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