cover image Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom

Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom

Doug Henwood. Verso, $25 (372pp) ISBN 978-0-86091-495-2

In a combination of financial fact and commentary, Left Business Observer editor Henwood demonstrates here the futility of most financial theories. Quoting Marx, Keynes and dozens of others, he dissects in minute detail virtually all aspects of financial activity. ""[B]ehind the abstraction known as `the markets,'"" he warns early on, ""lurks a set of institutions designed to maximize the wealth and power... of the creditor-rentier class of the First World."" These include the colossal worldwide market in credit instruments (bonds and derivatives), which dwarfs the stock market. Henwood, who acknowledges he is not a trained economist, accuses the dismal science of cloaking itself in mathematical rigor while largely failing to address basic issues such as ""whether... financial markets serve their advertised purpose of allocating social capital effectively."" Taking close aim at almost everything he writes about, the author favors taxing the rich, including levying a tax on securities transactions, along with eventually eliminating stock markets. This book will appeal especially to those who have ever bristled at the thought of insider trading. Illustrations. (July)