Investment Banking Links to Real Economy

Wall Street has created enormous wealth for itself and others. Yet the industry is going through an existential crisis, provoked by politicians who may have limited context for financial intermediation. Bereft of jargon, Why Wall Street Matters clarifies the central function of the commercial- and investment-banking industry.

Why Wall Street Matters (Affiliate Link)
William D. Cohan

It is easy to disparage Wall Street. The man-on-the-street probably does not have a good sense of the inner workings of the industry. And Hollywood certainly does not help with its exaggerated movie scripts. Critics should pause and read Why Wall Street Matters. The book is short and eloquent. The author, a former investment banker, argues smartly for reform, without debasing the contributions the industry makes to the global economy.

This short work is a superb review of the history of Wall Street. It is less successful at prescribing solutions to repair a business culture that led to the global financial crisis. The author reminds us of the crucial role that financial intermediation plays in the global economy, with aplomb. His centerpiece example may be the rise of Apple and the ubiquitous iPhone. But he makes plenty of other linkages between financial services and the real economy. Those ties are not well understood by the average person; Wall Street has done very little to disparage its elitism. Readers looking for comprehensive treatment of the securities industry will be disappointed with this sketch. Its only true victory is the eloquence of its historical narrative. But the book was not written for industry insiders. It was designed as an incisive rebuttal to those who aim to regulate Wall Street with ever-more scrutiny. The author makes it clear that such an approach will be counter-productive to our economic livelihoods, while affirming that prudent regulation is essential to safeguarding our individual and collective wealth.

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