The Journal’s Take On The Death Of Wall Street

As much as I detest instant history and the recent spate of articles recounting the events of the last few months, I have to admit that the WSJ’s article this evening on the death of Wall Street is a pretty good read.

For the U.S. securities industry to unravel as spectacularly as it did in September, many parties had to pull on many threads. Mortgage bankers gave loans to Americans for homes they couldn’t afford. Investment houses packaged these loans into complex instruments whose risk they didn’t always understand. Ratings agencies often gave their seal of approval, investors borrowed heavily to buy, regulators missed the warning signs. But at the center of it all — and paid hundreds of millions of dollars during the boom to manage their firms’ risk — were the four bosses of Wall Street.

Details of these CEOs’ decisions and negotiations, many of them previously unreported, show how they sought to avert the death of America’s giant investment banks. Their efforts culminated in a round-the-clock weekend of secret negotiations and personal struggles to keep their firms afloat. Accounts of these events are based on company and other documents, emails and interviews with Wall Street executives, traders, regulators, investors and others.

When you get done with it, you aren’t going to know a whole lot more than you did before, but it is fun. More like gossip than insight, but we all like a little gossip now and then.

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