Conversations With Wall Street

Co-authors Peter Ressler and Monika Mitchell have been 20-year Wall Street insiders as partners in an executive search firm. Their book is a page-turning account of the 2007-8 meltdown and continuing unsolved issues that will inevitably lead to the next crises. Woven throughout their analysis are conversations with dozens of top executives from Lehman, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AIG, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and many hedge funds and private equity firms.


Only the executives' first names are used (for obvious reasons), which makes their recorded interviews with the authors more revealing, with all the vivid expletives un-redacted. We hear first-hand of how Wall Street's culture actually worked based on the "buyer beware" treatment of sophisticated clients. Pension funds were considered "big boys" who should do their own due diligence and against whom it was OK to bet that the securities sold to them would blow up. These were the market makers who, unlike the partnerships of yore, regularly took both sides of deals with their often unsuspecting customers while pushing ratings agencies to stamp these toxic products as triple-A. The prevailing culture is reflected in their language: "eat what you kill," "ripping the face off" clients and the jungle rule of "survival of the fittest" (often incorrectly associated with Charles Darwin rather than originally coined by Herbert Spencer, a British economist of that era who wrote for The Economist).

 

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