It’s not all beer and skittles on Wall Street. After all, writes New York business and technology reporter Roose, a budding Rockefeller needs to be able to “write a coherent memo to your boss after your third or fourth Jäger Bomb.”
When they’re not imbibing Jäger or Red Bull by the gallon, the eight young Wall Streeters whom the author profiles are working around the clock—literally, in one instance, a stint of “110 hours in a row, without setting foot outside the building.” One hopes the boss was appreciative, though, by Roose’s account, the young people who have flocked to Wall Street are often badly used, caught up in power struggles among middle management and little appreciated. The author often takes an offhand, anecdotal approach; sometimes the effect is too breezy, but at other times it captures the daily indignities to which the junior capitalists are subjected. On the other hand, as he recognizes, no one made them take the gig. The better part of the book is sociological in nature: Roose examines the trends that have governed the world of finance since the great collapse of 2008, which exposed not just weaknesses in financial governance, but also the fundamental whiteness and maleness of the system, to say nothing of the disproportionate representation of graduates of Wharton. To gauge by his observations, the culture of Wall Street was once a strange cocoon now laid open: Until the crash, even a loser could count on lasting two years before being let go, but now, among youngsters anyway, the atmosphere is one of fear and uncertainty—just like in the rest of the economy, in other words. It is instructive to note that after the bloodletting that followed the collapse, only a few of his subjects remain in high finance, while most Wall Street firms are having trouble recruiting the best and the brightest.
Of particular interest to young people contemplating a career in investment banking and trading, though with plenty of discouraging news.