Monday, April 14, 2014

Young Money by Kevin Roose

Kevin Roose had a tough go at writing YOUNG MONEY, a compendium of various insider accounts of recruits to Wall Street in the aftermath of 2008. This is because his previous book exposed the inner workings of Jerry Falwell's college (The Unlikely Disciple), and so stock and bond traders could see him coming a mile away. The focus here, then, is on unrecognizable mere recruits who agreed to be interviewed anonymously ---young guns who hadn't yet made many kills. The only thing Roose infiltrates is a Kappa Beta Phi dinner, where billionaire Warren Stephens donned a Confederate flag cap to sing "Dixie" in a sick skit about that giddy time when grandma was broken so the rich could get richer. Mostly it's a story of wannabes working long hours, wistfully sniffing out the big bucks with a longing for that day when they themselves can cash in with the same bonuses that the fat cat big boys do. It all makes for a insightful peek into how the American Dream has devolved into greed, even among many college students, fewer and fewer of whom seem to maintain the requisite ideals needed to change the system (which Washington refuses to, in its insular vote-and-kickback-obsessed deadlock.) Meanwhile, on 60 Minutes, there was a story about computer trading, chronicled in FLASH BOYS (read by Dylan Baker), wherein trades are made in microseconds on fiber optic lines before the individual investor (or even Wall Street brokers) can snatch gains from volatile markets. With everyone in the financial sector seeking faster and faster bucks, and Hollywood lionizing those who succeed, where does that leave the middle class? "Moving to trailer parks," according to Bloomberg News. Which is why some of the same MBAs profiled in YOUNG MONEY (read by Nicholas Tecosky) are leaving Wall Street for fewer hours (and less work:) to buy up and manage low income housing, "which will be in high demand as more people lose their jobs and/or their homes in the coming years." THE CRASH OF 2016 (read by Dan Woren) is another book predicting just this, in yet another round of shakeup (of wallets and purses) into ultra rich coffers controlled by the top one percent. Off by a couple years? All of which proves that greed is not just contagious, it is a disease with terminal consequences for those who buy into it, like gold-toothed Lil' Wayne, whose record label is also named YOUNG MONEY. (Make note, these are all the same people who laughed at the message of the movie AVATAR…although they may not be laughing much longer.)

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