Monday, April 13, 2015

Decisions: Life and Death on Wall Street

by Jesse’s Café Américain
I have just started reading a new book by Janet Tavakoli called Decisions: Life and Death on Wall Street.
There is also a paperback version of it available in the US and Canada here.
This is a non-fiction story of her travels in the world of finance that asks the question, ‘What would you be willing to do for money and power?’
As usual Janet does not pull her punches. The description on Amazon is rather intriguing.
In New York, the Federal Reserve Bank hides damaging information about too-big-too-fail banks from the public eye. A prominent bank CEO seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
In Washington D.C., a former Wall Street regulator checks into a hotel using the name of a hedge fund manager for an illicit meeting with a prostitute. In a D.C. suburb, the CFO of a beleaguered mortgage giant chooses a drastic personal end to “relentless pressure”.
In a picturesque suburb of Zug, Switzerland, the CFO of a major insurance company decides to end his life. In London, a financier kills himself in a way he once said he never would.
In her new memoir, Janet Tavakoli shines a bright light on the money-driven culture of Wall Street and Washington, and the life and death consequences of our decisions that put profit above all.
“The U.S. went off the gold standard in August 1971. With no benchmark, central banks could print money and debase currencies. That opened the door for huge bailouts after big banks screwed up in a big way. Taxpayers—not incompetent bankers—paid the price.
By [the late 1980’s], the Federal Reserve Bank and large U.S. banks had established a pattern to control the public relations damage each time banks had a major screw-up: accountants and regulators let banks lie about the size of the problem to stall for time; the Federal Reserve blew smoke at the media; finally, the Fed would bail out the banks in a way that most taxpayers would not understand.
Banks didn’t have to get smarter or more competent. The Fed trained the banks that uninformed taxpayers would eat the losses, and fake accounting would let bank officers keep their positions and their money.”
If ‘rule under law’ were more than just a slogan in the United States, men who occupied the senior-most positions in too-big-to-fail banks would have been disgraced, prosecuted, and jailed. But no bank executive was held accountable.”

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