13 Bankers by Simon Johnson
The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

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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.

About Simon Johnson

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Simon Johnson is Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is coauthor, with James Kwak, of The Baseline Scenario, a leading economic blog, described by Paul Krugman as "a must-read" and by Bill Moyers as "one of the most informative news sites in the blogosphere."James Kwak has had a successful business career as a consultant for McKinsey & Company and as a software entrepreneur.
Published March 25, 2010 by Vintage. 336 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Subsequent tectonic shocks—especially the Panic of 1907 and the Great Depression—led to the financial apparatus of the mid-century—the Federal Reserve, designed to backstop Wall Street in a crisis, and the New Deal, which, by separating commercial and investment banking, protected the ordinary in...

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The New York Times

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Seldom in our 230-odd years as a country have Congress and the White House had the fortitude to impose on American bankers and financiers a set of regulations sufficiently stringent to prevent them from pushing us into destructive panics and recessions.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

Publishers Weekly

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Though this blistering book identifies many causes of the recent financial crisis, from housing policy to minimum capital requirements for banks, the authors lay ultimate blame on a dominant deregulatory ideology and Wall Street's corresponding political influence.

Feb 22 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...


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Dec 03 2012 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

Huffington Post

But by then it will be too late for this cycle of financial reform -- and there is on guarantee that the backlash will bring stronger reformers to power (in fact, the White House and the biggest banks would be quite happy to see non-reformers prevail.).

Jul 06 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

San Francisco Chronicle

The authors of "13 Bankers" offer a provocative prescription for avoiding a repeat of the panic of 2008 that brought the world to the brink of a second Depression: Dismantle the nation's biggest financial institutions, banks that are today considered too large to be allowed to fail.

May 01 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

National Review Online

Democratic Senate Finance chairman Chris Dodd, in Johnson’s view, is not negotiating with Republicans in order to peel off one or two senators and get the toughest bill possible;

May 04 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

Seeking Alpha

but if you owe the bank $10 billion, they have a problem - the US government concluded that they had to protect the banks in order to protect the system as a whole.

Apr 04 2010 | Read Full Review of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street T...

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