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13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown [Kindle Edition]

Simon Johnson , James Kwak
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Even after the ruinous financial crisis of 2008, America is still beset by the depredations of an oligarchy that is now bigger, more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Anchored by six megabanks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—which together control assets amounting, astonishingly, to more than 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, these financial institutions (now more emphatically “too big to fail”) continue to hold the global economy hostage, threatening yet another financial meltdown with their excessive risk-taking and toxic “business as usual” practices. How did this come to be—and what is to be done? These are the central concerns of 13 Bankers, a brilliant, historically informed account of our troubled political economy.
 
In 13 Bankers, Simon Johnson—one of the most prominent and frequently cited economists in America (former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT, and author of the controversial “The Quiet Coup” in The Atlantic)—and James Kwak give a wide-ranging, meticulous, and bracing account of recent U.S. financial history within the context of previous showdowns between American democracy and Big Finance: from Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson, from Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They convincingly show why our future is imperiled by the ideology of finance (finance is good, unregulated finance is better, unfettered finance run amok is best) and by Wall Street’s political control of government policy pertaining to it.
 
As the authors insist, the choice that America faces is stark: whether Washington will accede to the vested interests of an unbridled financial sector that runs up profits in good years and dumps its losses on taxpayers in lean years, or reform through stringent regulation the banking system as first and foremost an engine of economic growth. To restore health and balance to our economy, Johnson and Kwak make a radical yet feasible and focused proposal: reconfigure the megabanks to be “small enough to fail.”
 
Lucid, authoritative, crucial for its timeliness, 13 Bankers is certain to be one of the most discussed and debated books of 2010.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 783 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (30 Mar. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4EIW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #395,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but boring 20 April 2010
By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I rate this book 4 stars for the information but just 2 stars for interest because it is so yawningly boring - useful but not controversial and written by academic/consultant types who may be hoping the book will become required reading in Economics courses. Although I do not disagree with its basic viewpoint, the book is highly slanted: everything is based on secondary sources, from which the authors take what they like and nothing else.

This book is a damning indictment of the banking and financial sectors in their past and present conditions and especially the political influence of financial institutions. The authors explain how a system of crony capitalism grew within the finance industry that created much of our current problems but surely all crony capitalism is damaging. The authors blame a combination of big business and big politics, but most of the criticism is on the big banks buying influence rather than big politicians selling it.

They also show that the purpose of practically all financial derivatives is purely speculative and that banker financed speculators create bubbles that turn into recessions/depressions. (Elsewhere I learned that banks lend about 7% to Industry versus 75% for Property - helps explain the property bubble, doesn't it?)

The book isn't technical but it's not really for those who don't have at least a little knowledge about how the world of finance works. Better to read "The Creature from Jekyll Island" which uncovers the whole criminal scam of today's money in the clearest and simplest manner I have come across.

And, for ways out of our enslavement, I also recommend "Freedom" by Veronica Chapman.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The necessity of brealing up the big banks 24 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
The main message is "The thirteen megabanks used political power to obtain their license to gamble with other people's money; taking that license away requires confronting that power head on." This book is very interesting in two ways, it presents a historical perspective and makes specific convincing recommendations for actions the government should take, that differ from what the government is doing
Three important issues are (1) Changes in political thinking since America's independence (2) The "blind" faith in deregulation since Ronald Reagan (3) The missed opportunity of the Obama administration.
Right from the founding of America two competing political views were present. One view that the potential power of banks was dangerous and a threat to democracy with Jefferson as its founder and the other view of Alexander Hamilton that banking in general and central banking were essential for the development of America. The great depression in 1930 was caused mainly by failures in the banking system, with several causes similar to the 2007-8 crisis. FDR was convinced that some banks had become to powerful and acted irresponsibly (like many other smaller banks) and proposed and got approval during the first six months for acts to break up banks by separating investment banking from commercial baking and new regulatory organisations and new rules to protect the clients of the banks.
Ronald Reagan started to move political thinking in the other direction: deregulation is good. There is no doubt that he was right in many areas, but banking is different from other industrial segments.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This intriguing study concludes that for all the talk of a new world order after the devastating 2007-2009 financial collapse, Wall Street looks remarkably the same. Money and power are concentrated in fewer hands, but the Street's fundamental philosophy, favoring light regulation and markets dominated by a few huge banks, survives. In this eye-opening account, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Simon Johnson and former McKinsey & Co. consultant James Kwak argue that Wall Street has gotten what it wants for too long, and that the time has come to break up big banks. While the authors cover oft-trod turf, their novel premise that the government must break up the big banks counters conventional wisdom. getAbstract recommends this book to taxpayers and policy makers seeking insight into how Wall Street works.
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