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13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown | [Simon Johnson, James Kwak]

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

Even after the ruinous financial crisis of 2008, America is still beset by the depredations of an oligarchy that is now bigger, more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Anchored by six megabanks, which together control assets amounting to more than 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product, these financial institutions (now more emphatically "too big to fail") continue to hold the global economy hostage.
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Publisher's Summary

Even after the ruinous financial crisis of 2008, America is still beset by the depredations of an oligarchy that is now bigger, more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Anchored by six megabanks, which together control assets amounting to more than 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product, these financial institutions (now more emphatically "too big to fail") continue to hold the global economy hostage, threatening yet another financial meltdown with their excessive risk-taking and toxic "business as usual" practices. How did this come to be - and what is to be done?

These are the central concerns of 13 Bankers, a brilliant, historically informed account of our troubled political economy. Prominent economist Simon Johnson and James Kwak give a wide-ranging, meticulous, and bracing account of recent U.S. financial history within the context of previous showdowns between American democracy and Big Finance. They convincingly show why our future is imperiled by the ideology of finance (finance is good, unregulated finance is better, unfettered finance run amok is best) and by Wall Street's political control of government policy pertaining to it.

The choice that America faces is stark: whether Washington will accede to the vested interests of an unbridled financial sector that runs up profits in good years and dumps its losses on taxpayers in lean years, or reform through stringent regulation the banking system as first and foremost an engine of economic growth. To restore health and balance to our economy, Johnson and Kwak make a radical yet feasible and focused proposal: reconfigure the megabanks to be "small enough to fail".

©2010 Simon Johnson and James Kwak (P)2010 Tantor

What the Critics Say

“Johnson and Kwak not only tell us in great detail how the crisis happened...but they see the deeper political and cultural context that permitted carelessness and excess nearly to break the financial system.” (Bill Bradley, former U.S. senator)

“If the wads of money you’re stuffed into your mattress for safekeeping don’t keep you up at night, 13 Bankers will. A disturbing and painstakingly researched account of how the banks wrenched control of government and society out of our hands – and what we can do to seize it back.” (Bill Moyers)

"Our future depends on fixing our financial system; 13 Bankers shows us how.” (Arianna Huffington)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (216 )
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4.0 (64 )
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3.7 (63 )
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3 star
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  •  
    Kyle Palmetto Bay, FL, USA 04-11-10
    Kyle Palmetto Bay, FL, USA 04-11-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Easy to Understand and Comprehend"

    My opinion is that I just "read" the Financial History class that everyone should go through. If you want to understand the interplay between politics and finance, this is the book for you. If you want to understand what happened to the market and what can happen, this is the book for you. The author went to great lengths to explain the underlying terms that define the markets and the narrator made it easy to listen to this book for a long time. Well done.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Chicago, IL, United States 05-12-10
    John Chicago, IL, United States 05-12-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Important book...horribly narrated"

    This is a valuable contribution to understanding the meltdown of the financial sector and the challenges in putting it right again (including getting regulation right...which Congress seems incapable of handling).

    HOWEVER, the narrator is unquestionably THE WORST I have ever encountered in over 300 books (and there have been a number of poor narrators). Synnestvedt's narration sounds like he is, in turns pleased, relieved and proud to reach the end of EVERY sentence. The narration becomes so annoying, even painful, to listen to that the underlying content is diminished.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn Thiel 04-29-10 Member Since 2004
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    "A must read, but consider Kindle or print version"

    Everyone should read this book, but the narrator's strange way of speaking made this an agonizing listen for me. It gets worse toward the end. Be sure to check out the sample before buying.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Chapel Hill, NC, USA 04-20-10
    Daniel Chapel Hill, NC, USA 04-20-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Great book; annoying narrator"

    This book is a wonderful primer to the financial mess that is Wall Street today. It's well-researched, clear, and compelling. Given that, it's unfortunate that the narrator has such an obnoxious sentence cadence. On balance, it's not an argument for not buying the book; it's just annoying.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Gainesville, FL, United States 05-11-10
    Thomas Gainesville, FL, United States 05-11-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Good review of banking sector"

    While this is not light entertainment, it is an accessible study of the 2008 banking crisis, its historical, social, and political context. The authors are also quite specific in their indication of how to avoid the next, similar crisis.

    At times the narrator seemed to have a sort of Valley Girl intonation pattern that bothered me, but otherwise it was an engaging performance of a difficult text.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Abouseda Fresno, Ca USA 10-07-10
    S. Abouseda Fresno, Ca USA 10-07-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Narrator is terrible"

    I listen to a lot of books and this is one of the worst narrations I have heard. I can't get through any chapters because I don't want to listen to this guys voice. Another book with a good narration (not more exciting) is The Big Short. I could get through that one. Some books you just have to read yourself.

    So this is not a book review as I can't get through any part of the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ida F. 05-16-10
    Ida F. 05-16-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting content: snoozeville narration"

    I have over 3 dozen audio books from Audible and this is the first time I've decided to buy the book and just read it. I want to hear Simon Johnson's take on these 13 powerful bankers -- and their grip on our economy, but the narration has an odd cadence. The beginning of sentences start out fine, but the narrator ends the last few syllables of nearly every sentence in a clipped staccato. The effect is nearly hypnotic. The content is already somewhat dry and I listen while commuting 2 hours each week -- sometimes late in the evening. I listen to keep me alert -- but this narrator's style lulls me like a baby. Listen to the sample -- maybe it won't bother you and the content is certainly worth the listen/read.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    linda Piedmont, CA, United States 03-22-13
    linda Piedmont, CA, United States 03-22-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Explanation of Too Big to Fail Banking"

    This is an excellent book that provides the historical background of the consolidation of financial institutions and the immense economic and political power the big banks now hold. The authors chronicle the government's role in its deregulation of the financial sector as well as its failure to adapt its oversight to monitor the shadow banking system and the new financial products that were responsible for the financial crisis. The book provides detailed information for understanding the current debate on "too big to fail" and "too big to prosecute." However, the narrator is horrible - his sentences are short and clipped and his intonation is extremely odd and annoying. His pronunciation is fine but it's hard to understand why this professional is allowed to speak in such a grating manner. I am sure he could do a great job at reading if he were to just adjust a little bit, in some places it is fine.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    clemens Roskilde, CA, United States 03-04-13
    clemens Roskilde, CA, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Amazing book, taken down a notch by the narrator."
    What made the experience of listening to 13 Bankers the most enjoyable?

    The very insightful (And clearly empirically tested) political & economic thoughts presented.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    its not really character driven.


    What three words best describe Erik Synnestvedt’s voice?

    ends sentences weirdly


    If you could give 13 Bankers a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Why the US (and maybe EU) needs a shift in the balance of power.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is an absolute must read. Not only does it chronicle the financial meltdown in the united states, it also carry out a comparative analysis to several emerging economy crises since the 1980's. This comparison is very relevant as the reforms imposed on these countries by the IMF (US) differ significantly from the reforms the Obama Administration managed to carry out following the meltdown of wall st.. Only time will tell if the 'Cognitive Capture' of regulators in Washington by the Wall Street school of though will lead to even more significant meltdowns in the future. This book makes the case that it will and its hard not to take notice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dipanker washington, DC, United States 12-15-11
    dipanker washington, DC, United States 12-15-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Horrible narrator!!"
    What made the experience of listening to 13 Bankers the most enjoyable?

    the content is great but the narrator sounded like a sorority cheer leader...hence distracting the content


    What other book might you compare 13 Bankers to and why?

    The Ascent of Finance by Niall Feurgerson. its a better book and the narrator is great


    How could the performance have been better?

    get a better narrator


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    no


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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