“During your act you made bank notes float down from the ceiling . . . Today, when I came to check the till, there was nothing in it but a lot of strips of paper.”
“Oh dear, dear, dear!” exclaimed the professor. “Don’t tell me people thought those notes were real?”
—Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
On July 15, 2010, it seemed that the lords of high finance had finally been humbled and hobbled. The U.S. Senate had just passed the Dodd-Frank bill, the country’s biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression. For the first time, hidden derivatives markets would be regulated, consumers would get government protection against sharp practices by lenders, and giant banks that had benefited ...