All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power

All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power

4.8 9
by Nomi Prins

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Prins shows how powerful Wall Street bankers partnered with presidents to became the unelected leaders of the 20th century.


Prins shows how powerful Wall Street bankers partnered with presidents to became the unelected leaders of the 20th century.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The intricate connections between finance and politics add up to less than their parts in this unfocused history of Oval Office interactions with the banking industry. Drawing on exhaustive archival research, journalist and former Wall Street executive Prins (Other People’s Money) presents a sprawling, haphazard, eye-glazing account of interactions between presidents and leading bankers from the Panic of 1907 to the Crash of 2008. Bankers pop up everywhere in her narrative, lobbying presidents, holding cabinet positions, leading foreign-affairs missions and staking out policy positions. Prins styles all this as a sinister “hidden alliance” underpinning a nebulously undefined global “power,” “control,” and “hegemony,” but her revelations are neither original nor surprising: she mainly demonstrates that bankers are part of the Establishment, with special interests—less regulation, more bailouts and foreign business—that they hope to see advanced through government action—or inaction. Unfortunately, her (often well-merited) populist ire never builds its critique of bankers’ opportunism into a coherent account of policy-making, wallowing instead in cynical conspiracy-speak—“there are no accidents in global influence”—and contentless Theories of Everything. (“Bankers had a propensity to capitalize on wars, but they were equally adept at profiting from peace.”) The nexus of money and government deserves a more systematic and thoughtful treatment than Prins’s. Agent: Andrew Stuart. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
All the Presidents' Bankers spins an enormous amount of research into a coherent, readable narrative. Even her frequent kvetches about the lifestyles of rich and famous bankers are entertaining….There is always room for criticism, and Ms. Prins does it rather well. Banking was her first career before taking up journalism. She can talk the talk and is knowledgeable about the many points where banking and public policy intersect...Give her credit… for seeing through the façade of Dodd-Frank into the danger of another meltdown that lurks in our day of quasi-nationalized banking.”—George Melloan, Wall Street Journal

“A calm, authoritative elucidation of verifiable history”—Financial Times

“Even those who have read Secrets of the Temple, William Greider’s massive and brilliant 1987 exposé of the Federal Reserve, will find Prins’s book worth their time. She presents a new narrative, one that shows how the changing cast of six has shaped America’s fortunes under presidents in both parties.”—American Prospect

"Prins divides her justifiably long text into digestible one- to three-page segments and seamlessly incorporates dozens of prominent banker profiles. Her work is highly recommended both to general readers and to students of financial history."—Library Journal

“A revealing look at the often symbiotic, sometimes-adversarial relationship between the White House and Wall Street... [A] sweeping history of bank presidents and their relationships with the nation’s chief executives"—Kirkus Reviews

“This book offers a time line analysis of Americans who granted or wielded tremendous power in unelected positions of public trust, on behalf of US presidents and cabinet secretaries, from the 1880s through 2013… [Prins] tackles hundreds of handwritten letters, archives, and documents necessary to research her subject; her findings provide insight into how US policy advisers juggled their allegiances between their employers, clients, and contacts in the White House, and the good of the nation.”—CHOICE

"The relationship between Washington and Wall Street isn't really a revolving door. Its a merry-go-round. And, as Prins shows, the merriest of all are the bankers and financiers that get rich off the relationship, using their public offices and access to build private wealth and power. Disturbing and important." —Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

"Nomi Prins follows the money. She used to work on Wall Street. And now she has written a seminal history of America’s bankers and their symbiotic relationship with all the presidents from Teddy Roosevelt through Barack Obama. It is an astonishing tale. All the Presidents’ Bankers relies on the presidential archives to reveal how power works in this American democracy. Prins writes in the tradition of C. Wright Mills, Richard Rovere and William Greider. Her book is a stunning contribution to the history of the American Establishment." —Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames

“Nomi Prins takes us on a brisk, panoramic, and eye-opening tour of more than a century’s interplay between America’s government and its major banks – exposing the remarkable dominance of six major banks, and for most of the period, the same families, over U.S. financial policy.” —Charles R. Morris, author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown

"Nomi Prins has written a big book you just wish was bigger: page after page of killer stories of bank robbers who've owned the banks—and owned the White House. Prins is a born story-teller. She turns the history of the moneyed class into a breathless, page-turning romance—the tawdry affairs of bankers and the presidents who love them. It's brilliant inside stuff on unforgettable, and unforgivable, scoundrels." —Greg Palast, Investigative reporter for BBC Television and author of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits

"In this riveting, definitive history, Nomi Prins reveals how US policy has been largely dominated by a circle of the same banking and political dynasties. For more than a century, Presidents often acquiesced or participated as bankers subverted democracy, neglected the public interest, and stole power from the American people." —Paul Craig Roberts, former Wall Street Journal editor and Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury

“Nomi Prins has done it again – this time with a must read, a gripping, historical story on the first corporate staters – the handful of powerful bankers and their decisive influence over the White House and the Treasury Department from the inside and from the outside to the detriment of the people. All the Presidents’ Bankers speaks to the raw truth today of what Louis D. Brandeis said a hundred years ago: ‘We must break the Money Trust or the Money Trust will break us.’” —Ralph Nader

"Money has been the common denominator in American politics for the last 115 years, as Nomi Prins admirably points out. All the Presidents' Bankers is an excellent survey of how money influences power and comes dangerously close to threatening democracy." —Charles Geisst, author of Wall Street: A History

"All the Presidents' Bankers is gracefully written, carefully researched, and accessible. It is a must read for anyone concerned with politics and economics — in other words, just about everybody." —Thomas Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Kirkus Reviews
A revealing look at the often symbiotic, sometimes-adversarial relationship between the White House and Wall Street. When it comes to the tactics of modern bankers, former Wall Street insider–turned-journalist Prins (It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions, 2009, etc.) makes her disapproval known in no uncertain terms; their predecessors fare only slightly better in this sweeping history of bank presidents and their relationships with the nation's chief executives. The narrative begins circa 1900, when bankers began to supersede industrial tycoons as the nation's most powerful private-sector prime movers. Financial titans like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller figure prominently, along with lesser-known but equally important men like Winthrop Aldrich and Thomas Lamont, as they navigate the treacherous terrain of World War I and the 1929 crash, both butting heads with and coming to the aid of presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Herbert Hoover. As Prins writes, ties proved strongest during wartime, with banks working alongside politicians to sell bonds and bolster the finances of U.S. allies. As the 20th century rolled on, however, power shifted north from Washington to New York, where deregulation and globalization created opportunities for bankers to create complex financial products that neither the public nor they themselves seemed to fully understand, which led to a series of market collapses and global recessions. Even wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been enough to galvanize the banking industry as prior wars did. At times, the author talks over the heads of a general audience, and her anti-banker bias, even if it's largely justified, cries out for some balancing commentary. Still, this is a valuable contribution to a growing body of books trying to make sense of an increasingly complicated financial world. The glossary of financial terms will prove helpful for general readers. A dense but worthy effort to explain how the economy went off the rails in recent years—and how we ended up in that situation in the first place.
Library Journal
★ 03/15/2014
Wall Street executive-turned-journalist Prins (Other People's Money) offers a history of the incestuous relationship between powerful bankers and the highest levels of American government. She traces her story from the Panic of 1907 through two World Wars, the Great Depression, 1930s bank regulation, the Cold War, innumerable market meltdowns, bank deregulation, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and President Obama's second term. She paints a picture of influential big bank executives and presidents forming a symbiotic relationship, where the federal government would permit the financial institutions to take on highly profitable risks with the government standing ready to bail them out when markets soured. The bankers in turn would offer campaign funds, boost economic conditions, and extend U.S. interests abroad. Prins says the bankers worked over the years to align government policy with their interests and that in recent decades that alignment became complete as members of the Wall Street fraternity moved in and out of pivotal government posts. Her final word is that America must sever the alliance between the White House and Wall Street or have it break us. VERDICT Prins divides her justifiably long text into digestible one- to three-page segments and seamlessly incorporates dozens of prominent banker profiles. Her work is highly recommended both to general readers and to students of financial history.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Product Details

Nation Books
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6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

Nomi Prins is an independent author, journalist, and speaker. A former Wall Street insider, her insight comes from a history of success within financial institutions, having worked as a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, a Senior Managing Director and head of the international analytics group at Bear Stearns in London, a Senior Strategist at Lehman Brothers, and an analyst at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now JPM Chase) which she joined at age 19. Nomi is widely sought-after for her unique perspective on politics, finance and the economy by top media, universities, filmmakers, producers and congress people.

She has appeared on numerous TV programs: internationally for BBC World, BBC and RtTV, and nationally for CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, Democracy Now, Fox and PBS. She has been featured on hundreds of radio shows globally including for CNN Radio, Marketplace, NPR, BBC, and Canadian Programming. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune, Newsday, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Slate, The Guardian UK, The Nation, Alternet, LaVanguardia, and other publications. Nomi has also been featured in many documentaries alongside prominent thought leaders, and Nobel Prize winners, including most recently, The Big Fix.

She is currently a Senior Fellow at Demos.

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All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Were I on an ECON faculty somewhere, this book would be a core required text for "Modern History of U.S. Finance." It is riveting. The writing style is elegant, the heavily documented recounting of the rise of the financial sector barons beginning with the late 1800's is simply compelling. The recounted "panic of 1907" is eerily similar to the mess that would ensue a century later. We in effect have come to have a hereditary / intermarriage-of-the-clans lineage aristocracy quietly operating the levers of power, globally. Presidents and legislatures come and go, but this small group of people at the top of the heap have inordinate long-term power with no effective accountability. That they operate principally with the funds of ordinary bank depositors rather than their own risk capital is all the more galling owing to the fact that the vast majority of the public have no idea as to how they're getting played. "Privatization of profits, socialization of losses" may have become a cliche phrase, but it's true, and it jumps right off these pages. I've been closely following FIRE sector machinations my entire adult life, beginning with the 60's Equity Funding Life scam. My most recent readings include "Capital in the 21st century," "The Seven Sins of Wall Street," "FlashBoys," and now THIS. We never seem to learn. For more than a century, national politicians have essentially been highly useful "Bright, Shiny Things," distracting dupes in the service of the quiet exercise of unaccountable global power and ever-increasing acquisition of obscene wealth by a small handful of men. Men. The broad public has zero clue as to the extent of their ongoing fleecing, how bad they're getting played. These guys seem to exude dismissive contempt for "the little people," which, to them, consists of at least "the 99%" (a fair number of whom likely count themselves as "financial sophisticates," while they too have been getting played right along with Joe lunchbucket). This excellent book connects so many dots. Ms. Prins is to be commended for letting the facts speak for themselves, with minimal interpretation and opining. A Must-Read, this book. -BobbyG
plumguy More than 1 year ago
Nomi Prins, in my opinion, is the "Carl Sagan of Wall Street." She can explain the most complex financial topics and mechanisms in terms that the average person will understand. If you want to know how the inner workings of the Financial Markets operate and how Washington and Wall Street have formed a symbiotic relationship to their mutual benefit and our detriment, then BUY THIS BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very detailed discussion. Fast read.
BKLaw More than 1 year ago
The book was well written and very informative. A great lesson in history and finance.
Vietnam1968 More than 1 year ago
Nomi explains who runs the country. "It no longer matters who sits in the White House". Previous ex-bankers usually become the US Secretary of the Treasury. The Federal Reserve is a private corporation of the rich, and the fractional reserve banking system is an automatic inflation process. Besides that process, bankers use more borrowing for their profit machines which requires more dollars to be printed, or today just appear digitally on a banks balance sheet. This causes the dollar to lose purchasing power for all of us. The bailout of 2008 was a continuation of bailouts which has occurred since the creation of the Fed, and was one of the purposes for the Fed. The total bank bailout was not $700 billion from the TARP program, but almost $20 trillion. And why is this not major news? Because remember who runs this country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book All The Presidents Men is awesome!  I fully recommend reading Nazi Hydra In America first. The later sets the table for the former in the sense for most of the former book one is relieved that the banking system existed as it did.  Then the conduct of the last generation and half ...POW hits you with a contrasting conclusion that America has been robbed of our freedom.  The tame explanation of banking by Presidents Bankers until Reagan shows decorum and resolve to the credit of Americas emerging economic hegemony, it the Presidents Bankers conclusion you realize the author choose to temper the interplay of interests not otherwise sugar coated in Hydra Nazi book.  In the end you realize Prins reserve of the industry for the first four generations credits the America story that our forefathers did what they did for America.  The dudes from Reagan on clearly one can conclude in their arrogance just failed to pretend to be acting in American interest because they no longer had to convince the Honorable President of a course of conduct, as the banks have rendered the American Presidents impudent having bought and paid for them since Reagan to the detriment of freedom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago