Why Financiers Love Abstract Art

I work in finance,

but don’t hold that against me.


I love abstract art.

I love abstraction,

Because I am at home with abstraction.


Abstract art and wealth are synonymous.

Abstract art is installed:

in corporate plazas,

in corner offices,

in second homes.


For financial professionals,

Abstraction is something

We are comfortable with.


To understand finance,

You have to visualize,

The Intangible.

The Ineffable.

This requires aesthetics.







But space is not the material substance of finance.

In finance, a debtor and a lender are detached,

In finance, money and value are detached,

In finance, tangible connections to real things are detached,

And replaced with time.

Time is the substance of finance.



Present Value of an Annuity.

Future Value of an Annuity.

Present Value of a Future Sum.

Future Value of a Present Sum.

Partial Differentials.


Latency arbitrage.


The variable is time.


Just as in abstract art there is



Which are reflections of time,

Time is the substance of financial trading.


In financial trading,

If you granulate time,

You end up with nothing,

But piles of money.



We trade on one Millisecond

(That is 1000ths of a second.)

A blink of an eye,

Takes 100-400 milliseconds.


Blink right now.

I have just executed 400 trades,

Buy/Sell orders,

On your 401K.


But that’s actually slow.


Trading clocks are now synchronized on the nanosecond.

(That’s one billionth of a second.)

In that time a trade is executed.

In that time, light travels one foot.


If I stand one foot from an abstract painting,

It takes one nanosecond for my retina to register






Formal Abstraction and

Financial trading are


Formal Abstraction and

Financial trading are

Time based.


But we can granulate further.

In the future:

We will trade in the picosecond

(that’s 1 trillionth of a second)

Which is the lifetime of a transition state.

Or we will trade in the femtosecond

(that’s 1 quadrillionth of a second)

Which is the transition of visible light to ultraviolet.


This would be perfect abstraction.

To remove perception,

But leave affects.


A market that is invisible,

But where we feel effects.

An art that is invisible,

So we can only feel.


Abstract art is not just decoration for:

corporate plazas,

corner offices,

second homes.


It is the mirror through which we financial professionals see ourselves.

We see our (f)utility reflected back.


This is what I think of when I stare into my Bloomberg® screen at 9:29