An insider’s look at one of America’s darkest days and how Wall Street leaders worked together to avoid a national economic collapse.
More than 3,000 people died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center; many were traders, financial analysts and other investment professionals. Ingber, a writer and attorney who monitored trades in government securities, had a front-row seat during the tragedy. As the towers collapsed, the nation’s economic chieftains realized that because of the concentration of financial firms in lower Manhattan, the American economy could collapse as well due to the interruption in trading, loss of important records, breakdown in communications and deaths of key people. Ingber provides a minute-by-minute account of the events following the attack as financial leaders meet in makeshift offices, work without sleep for days and frantically track down data as they struggle to keep their firms afloat, often with the help of competitors who put profit aside for the greater good of saving the economy. To illustrate this point, the author recounts the words of Federal Reserve Board official Sandy Krieger who snaps at a colleague fretting over the proper valuation of commodities—“I really don’t think it’s about price discovery. There are dead bodies all around here.” Such episodes help add drama to the story, but Ingber is more focused on the minutiae of the Wall Street world, talking mostly about the nuts and bolts of bond trading, derivatives, net positions, inter-dealer brokering, arbitrage opportunities, discount windows and dozens of other topics most readers lacking a background in trading would find difficult to follow. Moreover, Ingber has chosen to publish the book after less noble titans of Wall Street dragged the country into recession, high unemployment and rampant mortgage foreclosures. Ingber concedes that following 9/11 the esprit de corps evident in September 2001 gave way to greed. “The Street now measures time from another September,” he says, “the one in 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed and the contagion spread globally.”
Ingber’s book will appeal to financial industry professionals but others may have trouble following the narrative.