A reporter for Bloomberg News, no enemy of capitalism, reads a fiduciary riot act to the bankers and hedge fund managers of the world.
A bank that’s too big to fail, by Ivry’s account, is far too big. Yet they were responsible for the near collapse of the world financial market in 2007–2008, through a combination of “stupidity, poor oversight, and more than anything, a neighbor-versus-neighbor waging of financial warfare.” In the aftermath, banks have been posting record profits. It may be that theology and economics don’t mix, but the overall sin of a system so rigged is its simple unfairness. More specifically, Ivry calques the seven sins of theology onto Wall Street, finding it guilty of such things as secrecy, pride, regulatory capture—that is, when regulators identify more with the institutions they’re supposed to regulate than with the society that employs them—and “a predatory greed weaponized for the war fought by the rich against the poor and middle class.” Ivry’s larger message is to show how these sins fuel a scheme in which risk is socialized, spread out among the taxpayers, while profit is most definitely privatized, kept out of the hands of the people who made it possible. Ivry writes with high indignation punctuated by occasional light touches (“As I tried to find the switch on my own bullshit meter, which I had on vibrate and which was now rattling my molars…”), and he has a talent for deconstructing financial jargon (“Think of derivatives as side bets made between two gamblers”). Yet his intent is utterly serious, and his book ought to become a standard text for the Occupy Wall Street and similar movements.
“America needs strong banks,” writes Ivry. “But banks need a strong America too.” To judge by this angry book, the denizens of Wall Street are doing all they can to obstruct this—and it’s high time to return the favor.