In 1994, a group of young J.P. Morgan bankers met for a weekend retreat in the South Florida city of Boca Raton. As Gillian Tett, assistant editor of The Financial Times, details in her book "Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J. P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe," the retreat included hard-core drinking, partying, and, eventually, brainstorming.
It was that weekend in June 1994 when bankers from J.P. Morgan's swap department conceived of credit derivatives, a creative financial tool that would allow banks to loan money with almost no risk.
We now know that credit derivatives helped hasten the housing crash, which led to the financial crash, which leads us to today, back to Boca Raton, where President Obama and Mitt Romney will go head-to-head in their final debate, at Lynn University, tonight.
Gillian Tett explores the beginning of the financial crisis, examines its fallout, and explains the state of the derivative market today.