Current financial scandals may be more complex and less glitzy than Wall Street crimes of the 1980s, but they involve similar underlying factors, according to two noted authors. Power, influence, egos, and hordes of money still play significant roles. Wolves still prowl Wall Street these days, though their fur has changed.
Bryan Burrough, co-author of Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, spoke at a Museum of the City of New York event earlier this month to discuss changes in Wall Street culture and offer comments on the evolving cast of characters.
Press Coverage and Politics:
Press coverage has been hindered by complex “Wall Street jargon”, said Cohan. Financiers “created a black box so that fewer reporters can cover the subject since terminology is so foreign.” Financial reporting isn’t an area that can be easily added as a specialty.
The political climate also factors into today’s situation. “The public resents that bankers got bailouts for problems they caused and everyone else got bupkis”, said Cohan. He lamented the “symbiotic relationship between government and Wall Street and the revolving door” of former government officials joining financial firms.