In the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration set out to radically remake America’s financial system—but Wall Street was determined to stop them.
In 1933, the American economy was in shambles, battered by the 1929 stock market crash and limping from the effects of the Great Depression. But the incoming administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected on a wave of anxiety and hope, stormed Washington on a promise to save the American economy—and remake the entire American financial system. It was the opening salvo in a long war between Wall Street and Washington.
Author Richard Farley takes a unique and detailed look at the pitched battles that followed—the fist fights, the circus-like stunts, the conmen and crooks, and the unlikely heroes—and shaped American capitalism. With a disparate cast of characters including Joseph P. Kennedy, J.P. Morgan, Huey Long, Babe Ruth, and Henry Ford (who refused to bail out his son’s bank, thus precipitating the meltdown of the entire banking system), Farley vividly traces the history of modern American finance and the establishment of a financial system still bitterly debated on Capitol Hill.
“Farley tells a compelling, amazingly colorful story about the great financial battles that shaped public life in the 1930s and the financial institutions that both protect and imperil us now. Along with fresh details about familiar figures like FDR, Huey Long, and Joseph Kennedy, we meet several characters nearly lost to history who are more fascinating than any we have today.”
– Jonathan Alter, bestselling author of, The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
“Richard E. Farley combines several things not often found in the same author: knowledge of the financial markets, then and now; a very good understanding of how Congress operated in the 1930s—and to a great extent still does; and a knack for writing about complex subjects in an interesting way. The result is a book which enlightens and entertains on a subject which has become as relevant as it was eighty years ago.”
– Barney Frank, former US Representative
“Richard Farley has written a comprehensive and entertaining account of the battles with Wall Street during the Depression that gave birth to the FDIC, the SEC, and the basic depositor and investor protections that we too often take for granted today. The conflicts and combatants chronicled in Wall Street Wars are similar in so many ways to those we fought during and after the 2008 Financial Crisis. This is required reading for a true understanding of why our financial system has come to work the way it does, and why we must be ever-vigilant to maintain these hard-fought protections.”
– Shelia Bair, former US FDIC Chairperson
“Wall Street Wars is a fine work of popular financial history… its extensive recounting of financial misdeeds prior to the 1929 stock market crash teaches a pertinent lesson amid talk of the need to restore trust in the financial industry.”