Some Tense Moments for Best Selling Author William Cohan at the New York Investing meetup

Top Quote A New York Investing meetup interview with best selling author William Cohan about his latest book, "House of Cards" produced some thought provoking commmentary and unique insight into how the Credit Crisis developed and ways to prevent it from happening again. End Quote
  • New York, NY (1888PressRelease) May 07, 2009 - “The body was on the floor and the knife was in the back” is how best selling author William Cohan described the situation that existed when he began writing his latest best seller “House of Cards - A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street”. A packed audience at the New York Investing meetup was listening to him with rapt attention as Cohan described the unraveling of Bear Stearns and the beginning of the Credit Crisis.

    Cohan was being interviewed by financial blogger Daryl Montgomery, writer of the popular ‘Helicopter Economics Investing Guide’ and had been asked why he decided to write his current book. It was an appropriate analogy considering Montgomery had stated that Cohan’s book read a lot like an episode of the Sopranos. The at times tense interview caused Cohan to say at one point, “I feel like a frog stuck in water that is slowly heating up and starting to boil”. The line of questioning that provoked that remark was about the extent of corruption and illegal behavior among Wall Street firms. Montgomery had asked about the possibility of Wall Street firms buying off judges to get favorable legal rulings, as was common practice in the 1800s. Cohan said he knew nothing about that, but that there were certainly a lot of ethical problems among the big firms and that “greed, bad behavior, and arrogance” were characteristics of the Street.

    Overall though the contents of Cohan’s book and the viewpoints of the muckraking New York Investing meetup were substantially in agreement. At one point, Montgomery said to Cohan that he considered his book a classic and thought that people would still be reading it 100 years from now. Nevertheless, the author and the investing group did have their points of disagreement. In contrast to the New York Investing meetup, Cohan supports TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) and thinks Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offers a lot of hope for implementing improved regulations to keep Wall Street from getting out of control again. Cohan also refused to answer Montgomery’s question about how Wall Street differed from a Ponzi scheme, saying that he already had answered that on the Daily Show with John Stuart.

    Perhaps the most important question of the evening came from the audience however. “Why did the government bail out all the other Wall Street firms, but not Lehman Brothers” asked a former Lehman employee. Cohan responded that if Lehman had been the first firm to fail, it most certainly would have been saved like Bear Stearns had been. It was his opinion that Lehman had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The author was also asked what he saw as the future of Wall Street. Cohan said he thought it would be back, since this is not the first time Wall Street has stumbled and it wouldn’t be the last since the foibles of human nature never change.

    Despite the moderator’s best efforts, Cohan remained coy about the next book he was working on, preferring to keep the details to himself for the moment. In the meantime you can keep track of him through the various articles he writes for the Financial Times, Worth and Barron’s. For its part, the New York Investing meetup announced that it would be hosting Jerry Oppenheimer as soon as he finishes his latest book on the Bernie Madoff scandal.

    For more information about the New York Investing meetup, please go to: Reviews of the meeting can be found at:

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