Interestingly, new research by the Institute for the Study of Neurotypicality has found that, most likely, the vast majority of North American and European banking leaders prior to the 2009 financial collapse were non-autistic. Equally frightening, many of these same leaders are still in a position to cause financial damage.
While the research did not attempt to show that non-autistic leaders cause banking collapses (they may simply be attracted to employment in sectors that are less stable), it is an interesting data point as we strive to understand the impact of neurotypicality. It is not known at this time if other non-typical conditions, other than autism, were also noticeably absent among the banking leadership.
In the Institute’s final report on the study, the researchers urged national banking regulatory bodies to carefully study the impact of an over-representation of non-autistic people in this key sector of the world’s economy (in fact, possibly in an attempt to avoid the high cost of competent employees, it became difficult for many autistic people to obtain work in banking and other fields). In particular, the focus on abstract instruments (really worthless pieces of paper or bits in a computer system, with no actual strong financial backing) rather than concrete investments (tied to actual ability to repay) may be a weakness of the non-autistic mind. A concrete focus, common in autistic people, on aspects such as profitability of companies and the ability of borrowers to repay loans, could have avoided the tremendous losses so many innocent families experienced.
Simply put, there may be a danger to others when non-autistics are able to wield large, complex financial instruments, which they themselves admit they don’t understand. In particularly frightening cases, some banking officials were found to have approved lawsuits where their own bank sued their own bank! Can these types of people be trusted with large financial instruments? For too long, our society has neglected to provide the help these non-autistic banking leaders need to function in society without being a danger to themselves or others – and others have been placed at risk because of it.
(yes, this is sarcasm, not an actual report of real research)