13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown Summary

The SQUEEZE: In 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, Simon Johnson and James Kwak discuss the American banking industry and its resistance to regulation. The authors focus the narrative on six megabanks whose assets represent 60 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The authors liken the banks to an oligarchy which holds the global economy hostage and then attempts to fight off political reform by using political muscle. Johnson and Kwak chronicle the rise to power of the financial sector and suggest that breaking up the banks must become a higher priority for legislators, especially if avoiding future financial catastrophes is a goal. It is the political influence of Wall Street that has created the laissez-faire environment that plagued the financial industry initially. The bigger the banks became, the riskier. Thirteen Bankers is a must-read for policy analysts, economists, and U.S. and global legislators.

Notable Endorsement: “An enticing vision of a Wall Street confined… a safer, saner system that has learned from its mistakes.”—The Wall Street Journal


Common Q’s Answered by this Book:

  • What is the nature of an oligarchy and how has the U.S. financial industry contributed to the resistance towards regulation?
  • What are the future financial catastrophes that might result if more than one megabank folds?
  • What are examples of laissez-faire strategies the megabanks use(d) to gain political power over the U.S. government?

About the Author: Simon Johnson is a British American economist. Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Johnson is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Johnson has held both academic and professional research positions as a Professor of Economics at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; and as a chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. Johnson completed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oxford; a master’s degree from the University of Manchester; and a doctorate degree from MIT. James Kwak is a co-founder, with Simon Johnson, of The Baseline Scenario, which is a commentary on the global financial crisis of the U.S. Kwak has worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, later becoming a director of product marketing at Ariba, where he led a team of product managers and marketing professionals. Kwak was also co-founder of Guidewire Software, an independent software vendor for the insurance industry. Kwak completed a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University; a doctorate degree from the University of California at Berkeley; and a juris doctor from Yale School of Law.

Book Vitals:

  • Publisher: Vintage (2011)

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