Reconstructing Finance

Relearning and Living the Basics

Today the financial services industry in the rich world—sometimes just called “the banks”—finds itself, as Shakespeare put it, “in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.” What is remarkable is the degree to which “bankers” as a group just don’t understand their disgrace and its consequences. Nor do the leaders of the industry fully comprehend the fact that they accumulated outlandish riches not through any talent or industry on their part (though many displayed both in high degree), but through pure grace. John Brooks, who wrote beautifully about such things in the New Yorker 50 years ago, titled his book on the golden age of Wall Street Once in Golconda (Harper & Row, 1969), after ...

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