Book Review: The Payoff

The PayoffConnaughton, Jeff. The payoff : why Wall Street always wins. Easton Studio Press, 2012. Also in audiobook format.

This insiders account of how Wall Street manipulates Washington explains why no financial firms or individuals have been prosecuted for causing the 2008 financial crisis, why our too-big-to-fail banks have grown even larger, and why our leaders in government fail to support financial reform.

In the beginning of The Payoff, Connaughton is in Washington in 2009 to seek justice against fraud and misconduct by Wall Street executives and directors.  But the Justice Department is unwilling to prosecute and the SEC is administering painless monetary fines.  As a “Professional Democrat,” one of thousands in the revolving door between the public sector and the private sector, Connaughton uses his own story to illustrate how government is staffed by a financial elite whose personal agenda differ from the national interest.   Ambitious staffers serve in government, then they earn millions on Wall Street while positioning themselves for better political posts in Washington.  Public servants in name only, they resist change for personal gain.

The Payoff describes the same political environment as Neil Barofsky’s Bailout, which was reviewed in this blog almost a year ago.  Both books are personal stories about the difficulty in dealing with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.  Both present candid portrayals of the Washington elite.  Connaughton’s rendering of Joe Biden is particularly honest and unflattering.  Both books detail how change does or does not happen in Washington.  Both books are engaging reads yet neither offers hope for the future.  At the end of The Payoff, Connaughton calls on voters to reclaim their government from the ruling elite, but does not say how.  Both are recommended.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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