Written by John Lounsbury
Note: An earlier and abbreviated version of this article appeared today on Seeking Alpha.
The new book by Larry Doyle, In Bed With Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy could be called a "must read". This reviewer would go even farther and say it should be required reading for every single American. This book is not just for investors, although it contains thoroughly researched and documented information that will transform the way individuals approach investing. It goes right to the core of the way the entire country operates as a private fiefdom of Wall Street. That makes it necessary information for every single serf.
This book will clarify many things for which you may have had an incomplete picture. It will give another example of the old saw: You couldn't make stuff like this up. But you will wish it really was fiction, just a bad dream from which you could awaken and have all the details just fade away.
A Broad Indictment
What is fortunate is this book is eminently readable. It reads like a novel while unfolding page after page of crony capitalism, regulatory capture, outright agency fraud (both within government and the financial industry as well) and abuse of the investing public. In 201 pages years of the author's personal research plus other sources contained in 200 references (which are footnoted and listed in an appended 14 page bibliography), Larry Doyle has laid out an indictment of the extensive criminal activity of the Wall Street-Washington cabal.
Many financial professionals will have awareness of many of the issues addressed in this book. But few will have been exposed to the details that Larry Doyle has uncovered and documented over the years. This book is the organization of that work into an impressive summation of the serious deficiencies that exist on Wall Street, in government interactions with the finacial community and all the way out to the face of finance for the individual investor.
Other reviewers have called the book a "blistering account of a conspiracy against average Joes" (Joe Meyer, CTPost.com), "an expert guide down the deep, dark canyons of our financial crisis" ("David P. Weber, Former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and SEC Whistleblower) and a "juicy insider’s account of the incestuous deal between Wall Street and captured regulators" (Erin Arvedlund, author of Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff).
The introduction to the book summary at Amazon.com begins:
The Wall Street meltdown in 2008 brought the country to its knees, and spawned nationwide protests against the lack of regulation and oversight facing Wall Street. But the average American still fails to fully grasp what was-and still is-happening: that the inmates continue to run the asylum.
Among the topics covered:
- Excessive market manipulation and investor abuse with excessive fees, poor (non-existent) fiduciary relationship to investors and insider trading by regulators - Chapter 1
- The corruption of responsible management by obsession with personal gain, both in finance firms and in government, which is essential composed of paid Wall Street servants - Chapters 2 and 3
- The exceptional self-serving market activity of FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) which self managed its own 6 billion dollar portfolio while nominally charged with protecting investors from industry mistreatment. Great detail is provided on the front running by FINRA in the disposition of their $650 million Auction Rate Securities (ARS) holdings before the exposure of ARS to devaluation was revealed to the public - Chapters 3 and 4
- The absolute farce of the industry arbitration process which dismisses most investor claims and destroys evidence that might get egregious misconduct overturned - Chapter 5
- Specific details on the "incestuous" relationships between Wall Street and Washington - Chapter 6
- The history of FINRA tracing its development to become the watchdog for the interests of Wall Street firms - Chapter 7
- The ineffectiveness of the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) - Chapter 8
- The futility of whistleblowing activities in the financial industry is documented with case studies - Chapter 9
- The failures through politicization of the FCIC (Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission) - Chapter 10
- TBTF (too big to fail) problem is analyzed - Chapter 11
- Suggested changes - Chapter 12
Who is Larry Doyle?
What are his qualifications to write this book?
Doyle has had a long career on Wall Street, starting in 1983. He has worked as a trader and analyst at First Boston Corporation, Bear Stearns, Union Bank of Switzerland, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. He has appeared on Fox Business Network, CNBC and Al Jezeera. His writing has been featured by Bloomberg Businessweek, Chicago Sun-Times, Financial Times, Forbes, New York Daily News, New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Finance. He is an author at Seeking Alpha as well. Disclosure: He has also had articles posted on Global Economic Intersection.
He has contributed documentation gathered in his research over the years to the SEC. How that turned out is described in the book.
The book is written with the authority of a Wall Street insider who has researched and documented many of the defects in the financial system, including pouring over many obscure documents that may have never been evaluated in depth by the media.
I have written a number of articles (TheStreet.com, Seeking Alpha and Global Economic Intersection) about the conflicts of interest of FINRA and the debate over fiduciary responsibility rules and regulations. I am more familiar with the the issues involved than 90%+ of financial services professionals. Yet even in those sections of the book discussing FINRA there was much material that was new for me.
I am extremely impressed with the depth of research that went into this book. Larry Doyle is uniquely qualified and prepared to write this book. And the result is a masterpiece!
Does he have proposals? Yes, here are a few:
Transparent, clear and straightforward disclosure of risks and objectives of every investment vehicle to investors;
- Thorough investigation of evident conflicts of interest for FINRA;
- Creation of a federal Office of Whistleblower Protection with powers equivalent to a witness protection program (my words, not Doyle's);
- Reform the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) to end "the sham protection perpetrated by Wall Street and SIPC";
- Campaign reform starting with a Constitutional Amendment ot overturn the SCOTUS Citizens United decision;
- Implement an independent federal Financial Regulatory Review Board (FRRB) which would have as members knowledgeable and experienced people* with no ties to banking and Wall Street; and
- End Too Big To Fail by forcing reorganization of large banks.
This brief list is abstracted from the 18-page final chapter which is worthwhile reading as an independent document, but is much more meaningful after reading the indictments delivered throughout the book.
*Among the people Doyle suggests for the FRRB are Sheila Bair, Niel Barofsky, Amar Bhide, William K. Black, Simon Johnson, Harry Markopolos plus others. He did not mention two others that I would suggest be considered: Frank Partnoy and George Ackerlof (although Ackerlof might not be able to serve while his wife is head of the Fed).
Disclosure: I was interviewed by Larry on his radio show in 2009 about my analysis of the financial system damage caused by The Great Financial Crisis.
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