Why Wall Street Matters

If you like your iPhone or your widescreen TV, your car or your morning bacon, your pension or your 401(k), then—whether you know it or not—you are a fan of Wall Street.

William D. Cohan is no knee-jerk advocate for Wall Street and the big banks. He’s one of America’s most respected financial journalists and the progressive bestselling author of House of Cards. He has long been critical of the bad behavior that plagued much of Wall Street in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, and because he spent seventeen years as an investment banker on Wall Street, he is an expert on its inner workings as well. But in recent years he’s become alarmed by the cheap shots and ceaseless vitriol directed at Wall Street’s bankers, traders, and executives—the people whose job it is to provide both the capital to those who need it and the grease that keeps our economy humming. Why Wall Street Matters is a timely and trenchant reminder of the good these institutions do—and the dire consequences for us all if the essential role they play in making our lives better is carelessly curtailed.

In a brisk, no-nonsense narrative, Cohan traces the history of Wall Street from a handful of traders on a cobblestone street in downtown Manhattan to the multi-trillion- dollar global financial behemoth it is today. Along the way, he argues that Wall Street and the big banks, with their important interstitial role between those who have capital and those who need it, are the invisible—albeit flawed—engines that power our ideas and enable our dreams to be fulfilled. Instead of being denigrated, they should be celebrated—and made to work better for us.

Maybe you think the banks should be broken up and the bankers should be held accountable for what happened in 2008. Maybe you hate the greed of Wall Street but know that it’s important to the proper functioning of the world economy. Maybe you don’t really understand Wall Street, and phrases such as “credit default swap” make your eyes glaze over. Maybe you are utterly confused by the fact that after attacking Wall Street mercilessly during his campaign, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with Wall Street veterans.

Whoever you are, whatever you think, the blunt, brief, and utterly accessible Why Wall Street Matters will be your beacon through the fog.

In the News

Watch the video on CBS News

Listen to William talk about why Wall Street needs courageous leadership

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to financial writer William Cohan about the firing of Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

William D. Cohan joins WNYC to discuss his new book Why Wall Street Matters


“Cohan writes with an insider’s knowledge of the workings of Wall Street, a reporter’s investigative instincts and a natural storyteller’s narrative command.” —The New York Times

“[Cohan is] one of our most able financial journalists.” —Los Angeles Times

“A former Wall Street man and a talented writer, [Cohan] has the rare gift not only of understanding the fiendishly complicated goings-on, but also of being able to explain them in terms the lay reader can grasp.” —The Observer (London)

Featured in The Wall Street Journal

Why Wall Street Matters, With William D. Cohan

What is Wall Street? And why does it matter? Those may seem like elementary, even simple questions. But the answers to them get to the very heart of all the issues swirling around our modern banking system, and contain hints on how to fix them. Read the full article

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Dodd-Frank and the Volcker Rule address the wrong problems and did nothing to fix Wall Street’s broken compensation culture. Burton G. Malkiel reviews “Why Wall Street Matters” by William D. Cohan. Read the full article

Featured in ThinkAdvisor

Wall Street Critic Says Stop Beating Up Wall Street

Bestselling author and former banker WIlliam Cohan tells ThinkAdvisor about better ways to change Wall Street's bad behavior Read the full article