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Reply to "Is the bold grammatical?"

The financial sector’s “salaries and bonuses” attract “many of our country’s best young mathematicians and physicists”—these talented graduates’ education “has been paid for mostly by either government funds or university endowments”, but activity related to what securities prices are doing “within a nanosecond time frame” adds “little to the financial system’s ability to perform any of its economic functions”.

Hi, Andrew—Like Gustavo, I had trouble understanding your sentence. I couldn't even make sense of it when I read the part of your blog with the sentence. I had to read the part of Friedman's article to which your sentence relates. Then things started to make sense. I think the sentence needs revision.

As I see it, the main problem is that the central contrast in the second sentence, which lurches out of the first with an erroneous em dash, does not lie in contrast to the first independent clause of the second sentence, despite its being connected to it with "but."

That is, security-price activity has nothing whatsoever to do with the funding of talented graduates' education; so it makes no sense to speak of how their education was funded and follow that with (paraphrasing) "but security-price activity contributes little to the financial system's economic performance."

Why not delete the part about how their education was funded, since it's irrelevant to the contrast that is central to your paragraph? Also, why not mention the types of firms attracting these young whizzes? Perhaps you could say something like this:

  • Friedman points out that firms' use of the labor of recent graduates in mathematics and physics to create computer technologies that exploit micro-departures in security prices contributes little to the health of the economy; they lure these great minds in with financial perks and effectively waste their talents.
Last edited by David, Moderator
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