The Seven Sins of Wall Street

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The landmark Charging Bull in Lower Manhattan represents an aggressive financial culture. August 3, 2012 in New York, NY. (Stuart Monk/Shutterstock)

Bloomberg News reporter and author of The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis, Bob Ivry, discusses his reporting on how banks have re-grouped since the 2008 crisis, and in many ways not learned their lessons.


Bob Ivry

Comments [45]


To help Mr. Leher and Mr. Ivry, "Sloth" is defined in Webster's Dictionary as a "disinclination to action or labor". It has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act. Wall Street, Congress, and the Executive Branch (which includes Treasury and regulators) all were disinclined to take action before, during, and after the crisis. The Federal Reserve was the only entity to take action.

Mar. 21 2014 05:03 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

I think the reason that business is interested in the success of charter schools, and therefore gives donations, is that ultimately, they are the consumers of the products of that education and realize that the system needs to be improved. It was educators who launched the original school reform movements, but today, because of the interests of their unions, educators are the ones who are blocking reform. The reform movement today is basically a consumers' revolt: High schools complain about the preparedness of elementary school students, colleges complain about the preparedness of high school students, and business is concerned with the preparedness of students coming out of college. It is, therefore, in their interest to contribute to the improvement of the educational system.

Mar. 13 2014 03:28 PM
Standards from Right here

I imagine that the next time there is a bailout, we will be just as apathetic about it as the last time. No pitchforks. No torches. Just cable television and NPR "news" organizations doing softball interviews to disseminate the message.

Effective civil disobedience is long dead in this country. For the few who are awake and are going to demand that the government stop the welfare payments to the banks, well there is the Patriot Act, and your protests will be considered acts of terrorism.

Mar. 13 2014 11:29 AM
GW from Manhattan

Relax .... everything is virtual. It is all just a prime number followed by zeros( how ironic) in some virtual electronic ledger in the cloud..... why are we so upset? Remember that Star Trek NG episode when a hologram took over the ship because it convinced itself it was real? The program held all systems that were tied into the computer that was running it hostage. They finally defeated it by letting it believe it had a ship of it's own --albeit inside a virtual holo world within a holoworld. So let these people( economic malware or viruses some might say ) BELIEVE they have all the money in the world to play with .. they can't spend it all. They can't "possess" it all in the material world. Meanwhile we apply and use it constructively. We only live a lifetime .. what is "ownership" for a mortal any way? Really ....what does ownership mean in a world of "ledgers and accounts" all kept in the cloud?

Mar. 12 2014 03:29 PM

Irresponsible consumer behavior was instigated, fomented, perpetuated, aided and a betted by ALL the financial institutions that profited by this behavior!!

The collapse of the world economy was the result of deliberate, illegal behavior on the part of an ENORMOUS and CORRUPT banking institution NOT, out of control consumers!!

Out of control consumers were a symptom NOT the cause!!!

Mar. 12 2014 12:10 PM

Blood SUCKING parasites!!

Mar. 12 2014 11:51 AM

This would be a start, my fellow citizens:

MASSIVE taxing of financial transactions on Wall St, a new progressive income tax policy (such as in the 1950's when people in the .01% of earners pay a 91% tax rate, under Republican Pres. Eisenhower btw) and the absolute end of gov't subsidies for corporations (read: no tax collection from companies like Exxon Mobil/GE, etc). They all use our roads, schools to educate their employees, and national infrastructure, just like we do, arguably even more.
How are they not paying their fair share (rhetorical question)?

Wall St gums up the electoral process, funds both Rep and Dem campaigns, has batteries of lobbyists and lawyers on the payroll. They write the laws.

As one sitting US Senator said, "Frankly, the banks own the place."

We no longer have a democracy people. It's been auctioned to the highest bidder. There's another term for it, for when the government and business collude to run the country. Look it up.

What we need more desperately than ever is an informed, brave and unified citizenry. Turn off your cable tv, the talk radio hate machine and stop buying the local daily newspapers; they exist only to make money which means pleasing their advertisers and not pissing off the politicians and corporations they also are beholden to. We are divided and conquered by these depraved sellouts. Find sources who have earned their merit, but moreover find the truth-seekers. The ones not cowed by the power elite. There's an incredible movement going on in journalism now at First Look, for example, where they've started amassing some of the best current investigative journalists. Matt Taibbi has recently joined Glen Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, and now Gawker's editor John Cook is on board.

Get informed. We've been duped. They're not telling our stories, they're not challenging the power elite, they're not exposing the fraud of a deeply corrupt system. The sellout continues. Because we're not paying attention.

Mar. 12 2014 11:41 AM

…those refinanced mortgages were deliberately, predatorily sold to unqualified people at an ENORMOUS profit.

Those mortgages were then sliced and diced and sold as grade "A" investment "opportunities"!!!

The more crappy mortgages that were bought, the more bogus "investments" they could sell… THAT's where the REAL $$ was!

We ALL could have bought a second home, a new, B grade Merc and a wide screen for the bathroom and it WOULD HAVE BEEN A DROP IN THE BUCKET compared to the subsequent criminal "banking" activity that brought down the ENTIRE WORLD FINANCIAL SYSTEM!!!

Mar. 12 2014 11:41 AM
wdj from Clinton Hill

I think this guy has just undermined his credibility by his answer to the charter school question. First, he was totally incomprehensible! Second, what is obvious is the Hedge Fund people are really looking long term at the huge, huge pot of public money that is spent on public schools. What is it, $600-700 billion?! The trend has been to undermine and sell off public services to Wall Street and the so-called free markets! This is the history of Wall St. for the last 40 years! Why is this man's head in the sand about this?!! Why is there such denial around the dispossession of the public to the private.?!! Charter schools will fail. It will leave more children behind than public schools and the people who have been trying to privatize and profit from public schools will walk away with all the cash. This is what we are facing now. Anyone who purports to realistically describe the "sins" of Wall St. needs to have an understanding of this reality. If Bob does not, then I have a wonderful bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you. OPEN YOUR EYES BOB and, for that matter WNYC/Brian. You need to do better on the analysis of the Charter, for profit school, hedge fund nexis!

Mar. 12 2014 11:27 AM

Lamar M from New York City ~

Good job on memorizing those Fox "News"™ talking points!


Mar. 12 2014 11:27 AM


Dubya let OIL stay at $4/g for SIX MONTHS which turned the sub-prime brushfire into a great conflagration that would have burned the house down. The bailout put the fire out. (There are plenty of hotspots left that could flare up again.) The Stimulus started the recovery [healing banking and housing IS REQUIRED if you want to recover your economy] and investment in infrastructure to increase future economic capacity [The step that Obama and the GOP are ignoring due to 'politics as usual'. ] are the only way to bring more productive capacity to the nation. Everything else is just trading values, not creating it.

Mar. 12 2014 11:26 AM
Richard from levittown

People will usually do what they perceive to be necessary. Those of us living on 401K or 403B accounts plus SS, realize that we live on the financial precipice, in large part because corporations and other entities had sold us on the long term investment in those hedge funds, real estate adventures, etc. The old long term retirement accounts practically disappeared over the last 30 years. Wall Street began to be the "savior" of people contributing to retirements. After 2008 we woke up in shock. Those of us who lived through the recession of the thirties were not surprised. The seven deadly sins never leave us, they just get better "cover."

Mar. 12 2014 11:24 AM
Lamar M from New York City

What ownership does regular American take for adding to the financial meltdown! Refinancing mortgages, flipping homes and buy two and three cars with limited income! Please stop blaming Wall Street for this issue! This is American greed!

Mar. 12 2014 11:22 AM
Robert from NYC


Mar. 12 2014 11:21 AM

The money created by the Fed Reserve banks competes with money you must earn.
So the housing bubble was created by this new bank money.

Mar. 12 2014 11:21 AM

After people indentured themselves with mortgages, the banks pulled the money rug out from under the market. This depression, like the crash of 1929, was deliberately created.

Mar. 12 2014 11:20 AM

How 'bout that PATHETIC, incompetent, SPINELESS sycophant, Lanny Breuer???

Mar. 12 2014 11:20 AM

Kudos, RUCB_Alum!

I thought the same thing!

Mar. 12 2014 11:18 AM
GW from Manhattan

16 trillion divided by 300 million = $53,333 to everyone in the USA. Eliminate green card holders and give only to Citizens who' s assets are less than 1.8 million and the figure rises to about 60K with 80% being required to be INVESTED any way but THIS time as disbursed assets owned by you and ME. SO the money is in the banks to be aggregated and loaned out and wisely invested but WE ALL have a vested interest and own part of it. This would have solved a multitude of problems and restored prosperity

Mar. 12 2014 11:18 AM

Speak for yourself caller...I have lots of fun having sex without moving.

Mar. 12 2014 11:17 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Putin, I am sure loves our corrupt American system.

Mar. 12 2014 11:17 AM

Charter schools = hedge fund PR maneuver.

Blood money.

Mar. 12 2014 11:16 AM

The problem is NO ONE REALLY CARES!

If enough of the population cared something would change.

It was APATHY that killed the cat, not curiosity.

Mar. 12 2014 11:15 AM
Terrmann from East End

Please ask guest to explain the Fed. Open Discount Window. Thanks.

Mar. 12 2014 11:13 AM

Bribery is not one of the 7 sins. But our government officials are heavily bribed by the wall street firms to direct the bulk of welfare to the banks, rather than to the poor.

Mar. 12 2014 11:13 AM

Sick Sh*T!!

Mar. 12 2014 11:12 AM
GW from Manhattan

QE should have been dispensed thru the populace other than thru the banks only. in the form of asset distribution for citizens. Requiring a 60% deposit of the funds into long term securities and another 20% in short term investments with 10% left for eliminating debt and discretionary spending

Mar. 12 2014 11:11 AM

Thanks you, CaptainDrG!!

Mar. 12 2014 11:11 AM
Steve from Queens

It goes to show you who are running this country (big business) and Wall Street is the place they make themselves richer and make main street folks poorer. How could we let business that control all our hard earn money regulate themselves. The government is giving these guys free money but we can’t even get a loan for a car or get a full time job. Our jobs are gone, the value our house went down. How come this government can’t bail out the little guys that had default on their mortgage?

Mar. 12 2014 11:11 AM

Why NO prosecutions?!?!?!?

Mar. 12 2014 11:11 AM

What happened to "Too Big To Fail"?!?!?

Mar. 12 2014 11:10 AM

I would not worry so much about the retired postal worker. S/he has a pension to hedge against low fixed income return. I would be more worried about the retired private sector workers. We have nowhere to go but the casino.

Mar. 12 2014 11:09 AM

welfare to super rich bankers - - Federal Reserve gave $16.1 Trillion since 2007 to:
Citigroup: $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000)

Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion ($2,040,000,000,000)

Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion ($1,949,000,000,000)

Bank of America: $1.344 trillion ($1,344,000,000,000)

Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion* ($868,000,000,000)

Bear Sterns: $853 billion ($853,000,000,000)

Goldman Sachs: $814 billion ($814,000,000,000)

Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion ($541,000,000,000)

JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion ($391,000,000,000)

Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion ($354,000,000,000)

UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion ($287,000,000,000)

Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion ($262,000,000,000)

Lehman Brothers: $183 billion ($183,000,000,000)

Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion ($181,000,000,000)

BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion ($175,000,000,000)

Federal Reserve's nearly 100 year history was posted on Senator Sander's webpage.

Mar. 12 2014 11:07 AM
Matt from Jersey City

Would love to hear your guest address this point, if possible...

Mar. 12 2014 11:06 AM
Matt from Jersey City

Was recently re-listening to This American Life's Giant Pool of Money episode. Got me wondering, with all the investors buying up homes, have the foreigners just stopped investing in mortgages and gone right to real estate? I figured this was another bubble forming, but what if it's just those trillions in global capital looking for a home, and deciding that a decent rent roll in Jersey City or Brooklyn is as good as dividends from GE? Why else would an Aussie hedge fund be buying up hundreds of brownstones? Except for pure, reckless speculation, of course.

Mar. 12 2014 11:05 AM


Stop the shell game!!!

Mar. 12 2014 11:04 AM
Ryan from Chelsea

What about a tech bubble?

Mar. 12 2014 11:03 AM

Geithner/Blankenfien: BFF's

Mar. 12 2014 11:02 AM

Hey, BL, if the retirees wanted to earn a 'safe 5%' on their money, they should have squawked louder when Reagan and Bush (I) killed the S&L industry. We need to bring back America's private investment function.

Mar. 12 2014 11:02 AM
Seth Pecksniff

Today, everyone is Dickensian.

Mar. 12 2014 11:01 AM

Little Timmy Geithner…?

Mar. 12 2014 10:59 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please ask Ivry about the Obama administration allowing Fanny and Freddie to make the same disastrous mistakes they made before. Nothing has changed.

Mar. 12 2014 10:50 AM
Robert from NYC

Fandonie! Bull----! Go ahead, continue to scratch Wall Street's back... side.

Mar. 12 2014 10:43 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL, their biggest lackey in Washington is little Barry Obama ..... which is why Barry spent last evening in Manhattan in the living room of the head of the Blackstone Group, Tony James.

(But, ssshhhh, he didn't want WNYC listeners to know.)

Mar. 12 2014 10:41 AM


Mar. 12 2014 10:37 AM

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