The Weekend That Changed Wall Street: And How the Fallout Is Still Impacting Our World

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America's most famous business reporter gives her unique perspective on the white-knuckle weekend that brought the financial world to its knees.

During a single historic weekend (September 12-14, 2008) the fate of Lehman Brothers was sealed, Merrill Lynch barely survived, and AIG became a ward of the federal government. Top CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo spent the entire weekend taking frantic phone calls from the most powerful players on Wall Street and in Washington, as they toiled to keep the economy from complete collapse.

Those CEOs and dozens of other sources gave Bartiromo behind-the-scenes details unavailable to other members of the media, of the crisis and its aftermath. Now she draws on her high-level network to provide an eyewitness account of the biggest events of the financial crisis including at length interviews with former treasury secretary Henry Paulson, former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, among many others.

Writing with both authority and dramatic flair, Bartiromo weaves a thrilling narrative that will make news. She also tackles the big questions: how did an unmatched period of market euphoria and growth turn sour, catapulting the economy into a dangerous slide? And in the long run, how will the near-catastrophe really change Wall Street?
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About the author

Maria Bartiromo is the anchor of CNBC's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo and the host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo. Previously she wrote a weekly column in BusinessWeek and for ten years reported from the New York Stock Exchange for CNBC.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Sep 27, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781101547410
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic Conditions
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Finance / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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You know what happened during the financial crisis … now it is time to understand why the financial system came so close to falling over the edge of the abyss and why it could happen again. Wall Street has been saved, but it hasn’t been reformed. What is the problem?

Suzanne McGee provides a penetrating look at the forces that transformed Wall Street from its traditional role as a capital-generating and economy-boosting engine into a behemoth operating with only its own short-term interests in mind and with reckless disregard for the broader financial system and those who relied on that system for their well being and prosperity.

Primary among these influences was “Goldman Sachs envy”: the self-delusion on the part of Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, Stanley O’Neil of Merrill Lynch, and other power brokers (egged on by their shareholders) that taking more risk would enable their companies to make even more money than Goldman Sachs. That hubris—and that narrow-minded focus on maximizing their short-term profits—led them to take extraordinary risks that they couldn’t manage and that later severely damaged, and in some cases destroyed, their businesses, wreaking havoc on the nation’s economy and millions of 401(k)s in the process.

In a world that boasted more hedge funds than Taco Bell outlets, McGee demonstrates how it became ever harder for Wall Street to fulfill its function as the financial system’s version of a power grid, with capital, rather than electricity, flowing through it. But just as a power grid can be strained beyond its capacity, so too can a “financial grid” collapse if its functions are distorted, as happened with Wall Street as it became increasingly self-serving and motivated solely by short-term profits. Through probing analysis, meticulous research, and dozens of interviews with the bankers, traders, research analysts, and investment managers who have been on the front lines of financial booms and busts, McGee provides a practical understanding of our financial “utility,” and how it touches everyone directly as an investor and indirectly through the power—capital—that makes the economy work.

Wall Street is as important to the economy and the overall functioning of our society as our electric and water utilities. But it doesn’t act that way. The financial system has been saved from destruction but as long as the mind-set of “chasing Goldman Sachs” lingers, it will not have been reformed. As banking undergoes its biggest transformation since the 1929 crash and the Great Depression, McGee shows where it stands today and points to where it needs to go next, examining the future of those financial institutions supposedly “too big to fail.”
In The Great American Stickup, celebrated journalist Robert Scheer uncovers the hidden story behind one of the greatest financial crimes of our time: the Wall Street financial crash of 2008 and the consequent global recession. Instead of going where other journalists have gone in search of this story—the board rooms and trading floors of the big Wall Street firms—Scheer goes back to Washington, D.C., a veritable crime scene, beginning in the 1980s, where the captains of the finance industry, their lobbyists and allies among leading politicians destroyed an American regulatory system that had been functioning effectively since the era of the New Deal.

This is a story largely forgotten or overlooked by the mainstream media, who wasted more than two decades with their boosterish coverage of Wall Street. Scheer argues that the roots of the disaster go back to the free-market propaganda of the Reagan years and, most damagingly, to the bipartisan deregulation of the banking industry undertaken with the full support of “progressive” Bill Clinton.

In fact, if this debacle has a name, Scheer suggests, it is the “Clinton Bubble,” that era when the administration let its friends on Wall Street write legislation that razed decades of robust financial regulation. It was Wall Street and Democratic Party darling Robert Rubin along with his clique of economist super-friends—Alan Greenspan, Lawrence Summers, and a few others—who inflated a giant real estate bubble by purposely not regulating the derivatives market, resulting in the pain and hardship millions are experiencing now.

The Great American Stickup is both a brilliant telling of the story of the Clinton financial clique and the havoc it wrought—informed by whistleblowers such as Brooksley Born, who goes on the record for Scheer—and an unsparing anatomy of the American business and political class. It is also a cautionary tale: those who form the nucleus of the Clinton clique are now advising the Obama administration.

 

The times have changed. We need a fresh understanding of the meaning of success.
 
What do Condoleezza Rice, Joe Torre, Bill Gates, Goldie Hawn, Mary Hart, Garry Kasparov, and Jack Welch have in common?
 
All have talked at length with Maria Bartiromo about business, the world and their surprising, inspiring and uncommon ideas about the meaning of success. Their stories, those of an extraordinary range of other people from all walks of life, and Maria Bartiromo’s personal insights are the foundation of The 10 Laws of Enduring Success. It is the guide for the extraordinary times we are living through.
 
 
During bullish, optimistic periods, people seem to ride an upward wave with ease and confidence. The tangible evidence is right there for all to see--in their jobs, bank accounts, homes, families, and the admiration of their peers. But it is a fact of life that success, once earned, is not necessarily there to stay. If ever there was a cautionary tale about the fleeting nature of success, it is the events of recent years.
    
But a funny thing happened. Faced with gut-wrenching realities, many people have started to re-evaluate the meaning of success in less superficial and impermanent ways. They're asking themselves hard questions that have
long been ignored:  about what's really important to them, and where the bedrock of their personal achievement lies.
    
As Maria Bartiromo watched the financial drama from her front-row seat at the New York Stock Exchange, she began to re-assess the meaning of success--not just as one-off achievements, but as a durable, lifelong pursuit. Is there, she wondered, a definition of success that you can have permanently--in spite of the turmoil in your life, your job, or your bank account? This question is more important than ever, given the unpredictability of the current economy.

--What are the intangibles that can't be measured or counted?

--What are the qualities that aren't reflected in your title or on your business card?

--And more practically, how can you remain successful even when the worst things happen to you?

--Is it possible to build success from failure? It's lonely at the bottom of the heap, when your BlackBerry stops buzzing, and the world moves on without you.  

Everyone wants to be close to success, and to have success. But what is success? How do you get it, and how do you keep it? As Maria interviewed some of the most successful people in the world, she felt the need to answer these questions: what makes these success stories tick? How did they achieve such leadership and power and how can one hold onto it, once you get it. What are the barriers to success and what is the bedrock to enduring success? 
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