Summary of Why Wall Street Matters

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7 Overall

7 Importance

7 Innovation

7 Style


This short, easy-to-read book argues for a simple concept: Improving the incentives of those who work on Wall Street will be more effective in preventing financial crises than tightening regulations. Drawing on history to make his case, business journalist William D. Cohan urges readers to appreciate Wall Street – which he acknowledges is not so easy to do after the 2008 debacle – and its valuable role in allocating capital. Cohan could have gone into more detail about how Wall Street firms fund businesses that improve the lives of ordinary people. Nonetheless, astute readers will find his central points intriguing and perhaps useful in countering the growing anti-capitalist narratives of the discontented. The question is, of course, whether Cohan is right or wrong: Do financial innovations have the merit he sees in them or could they be the road to risk and ruin?

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why so many people love to hate Wall Street, although it contributes to a thriving economy, 
  • Why regulations to prevent future crises are going in the wrong direction and
  • How partnership-style incentives could be an effective solution to Wall Street’s ills.

About the Author

William D. Cohan, formerly a Wall Street banker, is a financial journalist and the author of the bestselling books Money and Power, House of Cards and The Last Tycoons.



People Love to Hate Wall Street

When the phrase “Wall Street” comes up in the media or public conversations, most of the time the context is derogatory. It has become easy shorthand for the greed, flaws and inequality of the capitalist system. This is not a new phenomenon, but the 2008 financial crisis and its subsequent bank bailouts ramped up the anger. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald J. Trump attacked Wall Street, and Senator Bernie Sanders gained surprisingly large support for his Wall-Street bashing rhetoric.

More on this topic

By the same author

When Bankers Started Playing With Other People’s Money
Money and Power
House of Cards
The Last Tycoons

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