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I do, however, agree that those who make risky investments must be held responsible for their actions.

There is no prudence if there are no consequences. Jun 13, Samarth Bhaskar rated it it was ok. I like to fancy myself someone who reads across the political spectrum. So a book called "Why Wall Street Matters" drew my interest when I saw it featured on a list of short books that pack big ideas. Although the review was tepid or worse , I wanted to read an argument defending the much pilloried heart of finance in America. In its pages, I found some interesting history but mostly a dearth of evidence or reporting on its central question.

Wall Street democratizes capital, creates liquidity i I like to fancy myself someone who reads across the political spectrum. Wall Street democratizes capital, creates liquidity in markets, and is the engine of economic growth. Cohan also concedes that it isn't perfect. But instead of diving into the nuances of the debate on regulation versus freedom, Cohan mostly repeats his attacks on people like Senator Elizabeth Warren and his accolades of Wall Street insiders.

This sort of thing, which reminded me of Cable News, is not very compelling to me. I don't think any serious person contends that Wall Street is unnecessary. But no serious person also contends that it works perfectly. His final claim that the small but impactful change in incentive structures for Wall Street employees feels incomplete. Because it was a quick read, I didn't mind much finishing this book.

But I was left unimpressed with his take on the topic. This is a massively interesting question. This industry has an outsized impact on our politics. It is given an unsatisfying treatment in this book. Feb 11, Christopher Lawson rated it it was amazing. As I read more, it became clear that William D. Cohan is an expert in this field. And of course, a best-selling author as well.

The theme of this book is the big bank bailout--why it happened, and what we should do to fix it.

This led to perverse incentives and risk-taking that would never have occurred before. At any one time, fifty slaves could be found being bought and sold in the structure. I think Mr. Cohan makes a lot of good points. Jun 20, Gregg rated it it was ok Shelves: financial-crisis , wall-street. Neither would Elizabeth Warren, John McCain or Bernie Sanders, politicians he routinely dismisses as bumbling and inept when it comes to financial reform. Really, really hates it. Like, wants to see it pulled apart, brick by metaphorical brick. Like, would be happy to have no big banks, no hedge funds, no securities trading.

His ideal reader has no idea what these things actually are, nor does his reader understand how important and necessary Wall Street really is to the 21st century. Indeed, the way he tells it, criticism of Wall Street has simply gone too far. Nor would the people they claim to speak for—millions of middle-class and working-class Americans—want to live in that world, either.

The bonus system has to go as well. Dodd-Frank has got to go, he declares, because it is too cumbersome and thwarts economic growth. Ditto efforts to reinstate Glass-Steagall. Ditto all the regulatory mechanisms and agents littering the financial sector. Of course you do. So enough with all of this nonsense. Cohan keeps throwing up the straw man of the angry, disaffected but entirely ignorant hater and then switches to a glorification of modern day capitalism, over and over again.

But should they have been so upset? Would it have been better to have Wall Street collapse completely, with one leading firm after another cascading into bankruptcy and then somehow emerging in new forms, free from worthless assets and from financial obligations owed to others? It's impossible, of course, to try to surmise what would have happened Good, because I have a few questions for Mr.

Like you need to remind me that it actually happened two or three times in one paragraph? The fire department was set up to put out fires. If all my neighbors torch their homes smoking in bed and I get pissed off that the fire department has to keep coming to my neighborhood to put them all out, don't sit on your own stoop saying "What are you so mad about? That's what fire departments are for.

I only ask because a few chapters later, you report extensively on hedge fund manager John Fichthorn and transcribe his rage about Daniel Tarullo, the Fed's chief regulator, for two pages. Ok, so did Fichthorn know you also think that? Or do you actually agree with Fichthorn? And if so, why did we bail them out in if we would have been fine anyway? Which is it going to be: the nanny state or the Wild West? And does this line of questioning maybe help you understand that my anger over the bailouts might not be solely out of ignorance of the system itself?

He seems to think we, the public, need to be informed that banks lend capital out so others can invest it for businesses, home loans and the like, but he dismissively discusses MBSs and CDS instruments like we all studied it at Harvard Business already. IPhones, remember? I call bullshit. No one, absolutely no one, is arguing for dissolving the financial system. No one credible, anyway. As has been pointed out before , big banks are powerful banks and can stand against any government that has the audacity to demand more responsible behavior.

He also ignores the greater context of the twenty-first century. All this anger and outrage has not stemmed from total ignorance. Still, let's not gloss over the fact that the Fed bailed out Wall Street. It was supposed to remember Neil Barofsky? And I got off lucky—other people lost homes, lost jobs , sometimes even lost their lives. America is still angry at Wall Street, and brushing off our concerns like this only makes us angrier. We don't look at Dodd Frank and say "Oh no, J. Morgan needs to raise more liquidity than they want to; I can't invest!

If the world of high finance is too opaque, as Cohan says, then let some sunlight in. Yes, I like my iPhone. I still hate Goldman Sachs. View 2 comments. Mar 03, Eric rated it really liked it. I think this is an important book for American liberals to read. As someone with left-leaning politics who was attracted to the economic policies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I found this book informative and challenging. Cohan argues that the primary function of the global financial system "Wall Street" —that is, moving capital from those who have it and want to invest it to those who need it to start businesses, invent things, etc.

We have the flow of capital to thank for innovations that have changed the world and corporations that have deployed them. At the same time, he recognizes that there is a great deal wrong with how this core function of the financial system has been and still is being conducted in practice, especially in the years leading up to the financial crisis of He see the need for new regulations to stop the excesses and mismanagement that have characterized Wall Street, but does not support the rules and regulations that have been instituted by the Obama administration, and especially dislikes those proposed by Senators Sanders and Warren.

These regulations, he says, are motivated by anger and the urge to punish, and they curtail Wall Street's ability to perform its core, prosocial function while doing nothing to stop the greed and mismanagement of money. His proposal is to use regulation to change the incentive structure on Wall Street, to stop investment bankers from taking extravagant risks with other people's money, when they themselves stand to gain regardless of the outcome.

See a Problem?

Wall Street bankers must stand to lose personally from risky practices, and stand to lose everything. He also suggests, in agreement with Warren and Sanders this time, that criminal practices should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, something that was inexplicably absent in the aftermath of the crisis. In the end, I'm not sure Cohan has completely convinced me. When he was listing companies that would not be around if not for Wall Street, for example, I was not convinced that all of them had in fact made the world a better place.

He also seemd to have no expectation of ethical behavior from those working in finance, casting them almost as machines that will tend toward any financially-incentivized behaviors. Perhaps this is a wise assumption from a policy standpoint, but I cannot help but wonder if this portrayal of Wall Street acts as a license for bad behavior. The book did, however, lead me to rethink my basic stance toward the regulation of Wall Street. I had been attracted to a punitive approach, but I think the forward-looking, incentive-correcting approach advocated by Cohan will probably be more productive and beneficial for society.

I recommend this book to anyone who feels angry at Wall Street. It is well worth the time. Jan 09, Sheela Lal rated it really liked it Shelves: mba.

About the Author

A surprisingly decent foundation for understanding why financial institutions exist. I will have to listen to it again to truly get the most out of it, and honestly, I wish it was longer, to give the subject matter more space for in-depth analysis and explanation. That being said, it's piqued my interest to do some more self-educating to understand the "why" to "why does finance seem so distant and opaque". Mar 06, Thomas Ray added it. Claims we don't need to regulate Wall Street. This will not address the argument made by Mr.

Cohan, but rather the formatting and content in general. I do not take a position either way as to whether "Wall Street Matters. I wonder if Mr. This is in addition to the description of anarchist attacks on bankers, etc. This is, presumably, all to support the single statement that "Animosity against Wall Street is nothing new.

It's not even all that interesting, as I've read it all before, as have most people with a basic working knowledge of WS history. A history of the actual Wall Street, the wooden wall that protected the Dutch from Native American threat, etc. All this can be scrapped. The author asks "What is Wall Street? Later, by way of a definition, Cohan states that Warren Buffet came in as an outsider to bail out part of Wall Street a bank , when even later Cohan intimated that Buffet and his type of venture capital investment is part of Wall Street.

Poor writing and shabby editing. One would, then, expect an argument in the classical sense. Halfway through the book, we hear how Wall Street has been the source of some crises, the solution to others, and has been falsely blamed for yet more. This is good, but the author never explains how this ties in to his theorem. This is just one example of writing without argument. You can then, later in your narrative, give reasons why which, at this point in time, will now support the position the listener has taken. Again, this is a tactic of speechwriters. Sad to see it in a book. I think this is an important book for American liberals to read.

As someone with left-leaning politics who was attracted to the economic policies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I found this book informative and challenging. Cohan argues that the primary function of the global financial system "Wall Street" —that is, moving capital from those who have it and want to invest it to those who need it to start businesses, invent things, etc.

We have the flow of capital to thank for innovations that have changed the world and corporations that have deployed them. At the same time, he recognizes that there is a great deal wrong with how this core function of the financial system has been and still is being conducted in practice, especially in the years leading up to the financial crisis of He see the need for new regulations to stop the excesses and mismanagement that have characterized Wall Street, but does not support the rules and regulations that have been instituted by the Obama administration, and especially dislikes those proposed by Senators Sanders and Warren.

These regulations, he says, are motivated by anger and the urge to punish, and they curtail Wall Street's ability to perform its core, prosocial function while doing nothing to stop the greed and mismanagement of money. His proposal is to use regulation to change the incentive structure on Wall Street, to stop investment bankers from taking extravagant risks with other people's money, when they themselves stand to gain regardless of the outcome. Wall Street bankers must stand to lose personally from risky practices, and stand to lose everything.

He also suggests, in agreement with Warren and Sanders this time, that criminal practices should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, something that was inexplicably absent in the aftermath of the crisis. In the end, I'm not sure Cohan has completely convinced me. When he was listing companies that would not be around if not for Wall Street, for example, I was not convinced that all of them had in fact made the world a better place.

He also seemd to have no expectation of ethical behavior from those working in finance, casting them almost as machines that will tend toward any financially-incentivized behaviors. Perhaps this is a wise assumption from a policy standpoint, but I cannot help but wonder if this portrayal of Wall Street acts as a license for bad behavior. The book did, however, lead me to rethink my basic stance toward the regulation of Wall Street. I had been attracted to a punitive approach, but I think the forward-looking, incentive-correcting approach advocated by Cohan will probably be more productive and beneficial for society.

I recommend this book to anyone who feels angry at Wall Street. It is well worth the time. Jan 09, Sheela Lal rated it really liked it Shelves: mba. A surprisingly decent foundation for understanding why financial institutions exist. I will have to listen to it again to truly get the most out of it, and honestly, I wish it was longer, to give the subject matter more space for in-depth analysis and explanation. That being said, it's piqued my interest to do some more self-educating to understand the "why" to "why does finance seem so distant and opaque".

Mar 06, Thomas Ray added it. Claims we don't need to regulate Wall Street. This will not address the argument made by Mr. Cohan, but rather the formatting and content in general. I do not take a position either way as to whether "Wall Street Matters. I wonder if Mr. This is in addition to the description of anarchist attacks on bankers, etc. This is, presumably, all to support the single statement that "Animosity against Wall Street is nothing new. It's not even all that interesting, as I've read it all before, as have most people with a basic working knowledge of WS history.

A history of the actual Wall Street, the wooden wall that protected the Dutch from Native American threat, etc. All this can be scrapped. The author asks "What is Wall Street? Later, by way of a definition, Cohan states that Warren Buffet came in as an outsider to bail out part of Wall Street a bank , when even later Cohan intimated that Buffet and his type of venture capital investment is part of Wall Street.

Poor writing and shabby editing. One would, then, expect an argument in the classical sense. Halfway through the book, we hear how Wall Street has been the source of some crises, the solution to others, and has been falsely blamed for yet more. This is good, but the author never explains how this ties in to his theorem. This is just one example of writing without argument. You can then, later in your narrative, give reasons why which, at this point in time, will now support the position the listener has taken.

Again, this is a tactic of speechwriters. Sad to see it in a book. Again, without taking sides in the argument, he says that there are behaviors that are permissible under the current set of laws that should not be, and then says that we should use current laws for enforcement, not install new ones. Forgetting your position on the matter, this is the mark of a weakly-thought-out argument, and in fact is not a cogent argument at all.

That may be. Cohan does not, however, argue whether the proposed legislation would curb some other ill.

Why Wall Street Matters Summary & Study Guide

It's akin to saying "the new laws on food safety would not have prevented the recent listeria outbreak," while not investigating whether it might help with salmonella in the same industry. Again, forgetting where the reader stands on the legislation mentioned in the book, this is bad logic and a weak argument. I take no position on the arguments made here. They are often incomplete or contradictory, so it makes little sense to do so. This is a poorly written book, content aside.

And a fifth of it need not even exist. I would bet that, cut down to perhaps pages and with another editor, this would make an engaging white paper. As a book, it fails miserably. Apr 18, Jacob Allred is currently reading it. It also functions dually as an attempt at easing the tension between big banks and the common person.

After the economical collapse of the public was furious at the risk taking of the banks and their fall back on tax payer dollars without inducing any consequence themselves. To describe this Cohen uses a very down to earth method of story telling and and allowing the reader to understand Wall Street at its most basic core.

Why Wall Street Matters, With William D. Cohan

From the first national bank to the current day monstrous investment banks, Cohen skims over the necessities on which Wall Street has built its history upon. Despite the implication of a heavily opinionated piece Cohen does a great job of allowing the reader to form their own opinion before he introduces his own ingenious solution. Aside from the principles of his solution, his theories are very well warranted. Although I may not fully agree with his solutions or causes of certain outcomes, I certainly respect them and was obliged to at least consider their veracity.

Why Wall Street Matters is a great book for anyone skeptical of the real importance of Wall Street and confirms the hopes of anyone still in good favor with Wall Street. This book is not for the advanced business minded reader nor anyone with little interest in Wall Street. I would give this book a 3. Nov 08, Will Fuqua rated it did not like it. This is the dumbest book I've read in at least two years. And I read Ben Carson's book. I'm not a huge Elizabeth Warren fan, but this is waaaaay too far in the other direction. Basically, we don't need to regulate Wall Street if we make them personally liable for bank failures like back in the old days.

They 're just so smart they won't cause any major problems. We definitely never had major financial crises or depressions before big investment banks went public so no need to worry about that. T This is the dumbest book I've read in at least two years. The amount of supporting evidence this guy provides for his arguments is so minimal, and in many cases completely absent, that this book would have a hard time getting above a D if it was turned in by a high schooler.

I get that he's trying to make this accessible, but I'm not going to take your word for it.


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May 13, Jeff G rated it it was ok. From the beginning indeed even the title , it is clear the purpose that William Cohen has for this book - to tell us why Wall Street matters. In his words from the introduction, he states "that the essential elements of Wall Street - Wall Street in its purest and most practical forms - must be preserved, encouraged and praised" p.

He asserts this throughout, but fails to give compelling arguments. One of the best parts of this book to me was his recounting the history of investment bank From the beginning indeed even the title , it is clear the purpose that William Cohen has for this book - to tell us why Wall Street matters. One of the best parts of this book to me was his recounting the history of investment banks moving from privately-held partnerships to publicly-owned institutions. Cohen's knowledge and experience in the investment banking business clearly shows in this section.

In another section of the book, Cohan quotes Henry Clews, a British-born American financier in comments about the necessity of "moral and honest principles" in business. This area would be fruitful for further discussion. Much of the rest of the book, however, is full of assertions without much support for his statements. In addition, he clearly shows disdain for certain politicians and their policy prescriptions. He has no use for those who have suggested additional capital or the break up of big banks.

As for his own prescription, Cohan only recommends the elimination of the bonus system on Wall Street and that the leaders of big Wall Street firms "need to have their full net worth on the line. As the book moves along, Cohan's tone becomes more one-sided and even shrill. Perhaps the most egregious example of the attitude of the book is in the conclusion.

Cohan quotes a senior Wall Street executive, who essentially states I'll leave off the profanities that if we "shut down" Wall Street, we'll love the Middle Ages. This book could have been an opportunity to advance the discussion about the role of financial intermediaries post- financial crisis. Rather, much of this book is instead a one-sided screed that solely parrots the standard Wall Street 'line'. May 17, David Watson rated it really liked it. What a fortuitous time to pick up this book - just at Uber's less-than-stellar IPO was happening.

While veteran business journalist William Cohan's concise page defence of Wall Street was published a couple of years ago and obviously doesn't address the IPOs of Lyft and Uber and the pending ones of several more not-yet-profitable Unicorns, it was nonetheless a great week in which to read Cohan's work. Cohan makes a passioned defence of Wall Street, the bane of US regulators since the financi What a fortuitous time to pick up this book - just at Uber's less-than-stellar IPO was happening.

Cohan makes a passioned defence of Wall Street, the bane of US regulators since the financial crisis of He makes a good case that the intense monitoring of Wall Street investment banks and US retail banks that was instituted in the wake of the crisis should be reduced significantly, and instead that the perverse incentives that led to so many excesses by Wall Street executives in the past 50 years since the first Wall Street investment bank went public be changed so that executives' own assets are on the line if a firm gets into financial trouble.

While the book written two years ago, Cohan's observations of politicians capitalising on Wall Street's woes is highly relevant especially in light of Elizabeth Warren's recent activities - while a lifelong Democrat voter, Cohan doesn't hold back when he thinks politicians like her and Bernie Sanders are engaging in populist-type tactics and misrepresenting Wall Street's vital role in US and world commerce.

The early stages of the book are fascinating as Cohan describes Wall Street's origins and how it got its name - clue: it's not named after an early prominent New Yorker by the name of Mr Wall, as I'd sort of assumed. The story is far more interesting than that. Overall, this is a great, informative read. Nov 29, Andy Huette rated it liked it. Nevertheless, I did learn a few things. What really the saved the book, though was his closing argument about the simplest fix to Wall Street without crippling its function of providing capital for global commerce.

The primary problem with Wall Street is the socialization of risk and the privatization of reward. Thus, the simplest solution is not a 2, page Dodd-Frank bill full of regulations but to put the risk back upon the shoulders of the risk-takers. May 29, Yasemin rated it really liked it. I loved how easy it was to read the book. My main takeaway was how the misperception towards improving Wall Street prevents the banks from having enough liquidity in security markets, which affect Ks and other statements of average Americans, in order to provide big capital to businesses and good investment opportunities to people.

The historical explanation of Wall Street was quite fun as well, including examples of activists blowing up the street and killing many civilians and men who carri I loved how easy it was to read the book. The historical explanation of Wall Street was quite fun as well, including examples of activists blowing up the street and killing many civilians and men who carried stocks they had physical letters for transactions back in the day to the banks. In this example, the main target of course was JP Morgan and other big bankers who were having a meeting in a glass room.

But none of them died that day. Moreover, the distinction between investment banks before going public in the s and investment banks now is very important. Cohen constantly says bankers used to take risk with their own money, thus having direct consequences. It is a fun and quick read for anyone who seeks easy-to-absorb information on the history of Wall Street and the unbiased evaluation of law and regulations that limit the financial institutions. Dec 05, Homerun2 rated it liked it Shelves: book-club. Click here for more information Delivery times are business days only, and do not include Sunday.

But in recent years he has become alarmed by the vitriol directed at the bankers, traders and executives who keep the wheels of our economy turning. Can I return this product? What are the required conditions? Please see below conditions for your return request to be accepted: - product must remain sealed, except if the product is defective or damaged - product is still in its original packaging - product is in its original condition and unused - product is not damaged - product label is still attached - product is complete The products in your possession are your responsibility until they are picked up by our driver or you have dropped it off at a pickup Station.

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