Wall Street

Wall Street:How It Works and for Whom

  • Paperback

Beginning with a guide to the institutions and "products" of modern finance, from old-fashioned stocks and bonds to new exotica such as "swaptions", this text reviews the 1980s' fetishing of the deregulated market as the ultimate decision-making process for productive investment.

A scathing dissection of the wheeling and dealing in the world’s greatest financial center. Spot rates, zero coupons, blue chips, futures, options on futures, indexes, options on indexes. The vocabulary of a financial market can seem arcane, even impenetrable. Yet despite its opacity, financial news and comment is ubiquitous. Major national newspapers devote pages of newsprint to the financial sector and television news invariably features a visit to the market for the latest prices. Does this prodigious flow of information have significance for anyone except the tiny percentage of people who have significant holdings of stocks or bonds? And if it does, can non-specialists ever hope to understand what the markets are up to? To these questions Wall Street answers an emphatic yes. Its author Doug Henwood is a notorious scourge of the stock exchange in the pages of his acerbic publication Left Business Observer. The Newsletter has received wide acclamation from J.K. Galbraith, among others, and occasional less favorable comment. Norman Pearlstine, then executive editor of the Wall Street Journal, lamented, ‘You are scum ... it’s tragic that you exist.’ With compelling clarity, Henwood dissects the world’s greatest financial center, laying open the intricacies of how, and for whom, the market works. The Wall Street which emerges is not a pretty sight. Hidden from public view, the markets are poorly regulated, badly managed, chronically myopic and often corrupt. And though, as Henwood reveals, their activity contributes almost nothing to the real economy where goods are made and jobs created, they nevertheless wield enormous power. With over a trillion dollars a day crossing the wires between the world’s banks, Wall Street and its sister financial centers don’t just influence government, effectively they are the government.


  • A razor sharp dissection of the world of high finance ... Henwood has the natural-born teacher's ability to make the obscure transparent.

  • With a minimum of rhetoric once he gets rolling, Henwood does a regular Michael Jordan — making the devilishly difficult look easy, explaining the complications of high finance so lucidly that the system condemns itself.

  • Henwood has always been brilliant at the sort of unadorned insight that makes commerce come alive. Wall Street is brimming with such revelations, one after the other proving a central fact: capitalism is dirty.