The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, Their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis by Bob Ivry is both incredibly scary and ironically extremely funny – in a very dark way. This makes it essential reading for anyone with a finely tuned bullshit meter that doesn’t buy the notion that we’re all economically safer now than before the financial crisis of 2008 – which should be everyone. Ivry’s voice is appropriately sardonic and exasperated, his journalism and on-the-foreclosed-ground research, impeccable. His ability to empathize with readers that don’t hold a PhD in financial jargon (derivatives = “four syllables that launched a thousand naps”) allows him to render otherwise arcane topics simple enough to make you want to throw things at Jamie Dimon.
Most people living in the real world have a sense that the Wall-Street-Washington driven crisis hasn’t exactly evaporated into a haze of CEO repentance, or former politicians choosing to become gardeners rather than bagging plush jobs at elite financial firms. But Ivry’s book shows the ongoing crimes are much, MUCH worse than even the most alert or pessimistic of us think. Not only has there been no meaningful reform or jail terms for committing fraud in broad daylight, but the same Big Six banks at the core of the crisis, are back to their old, and some new tricks, with a pat on the back from Uncle Sam. They are bigger and badder than ever, despite public rhetoric to the contrary.
Ivry divides his book into chapters paralleling the seven sins – gluttony, wrath, envy, pride, lust, sloth, and greed. He doesn’t just excoriate the big bankers who played, and continue to play, freely and loosely with what he refers to as “Grandma’s money”, but embarks on an investigative search for the people living personal nightmares at the hands of these banks years after the “supposed” economic recovery and great reform myth of Dodd-Frank. Though the banks have supposedly repaid their bailout money with $20 billion interest to the American people (sure, no one got a check, but whatever), Ivry shines a harsh light on this irrelevant political babble. The big banks are not only bigger, but they are also “fail –i- er” he says. Take note, Stephen Colbert.
Ivry’s aim is “not to re-litigate the bailouts, but to illustrate their legacy.” As he writes: (more…)