Ruthless is a candid exploration of the criminal subcultureof Wall Street, and one of the first books to speak for the victimsof the financial meltdown. On February 14, 2008, author Phil Truppreceived a call from one of his brokers telling him a large portionof his investments were frozen—on ice—turning his lifeand plans for retirement upside down. When the fog started toclear, Trupp realized he was one of many investors caught up inwhat experts called the greatest attempted securities fraud inmodern Wall Street history—a $336 billion scam which made thesavings and loan scandal of the 1980s look like a simple streetmugging.
The path to destruction, financial or otherwise, often beginswith a simple proposition. For author Phil Trupp it came from oneof his stock brokers: "Take it, Phil. It’s free money." Thisfree money came from auction-rate securities (ARS). Auction-RateSecurities are corporate or municipal bonds with a long-termmaturity for which the interest rate is reset at frequent auctions.ARS interest rates were higher than money markets and were sold ascompletely safe, liquid, Triple-A rated "cash equivalents," adeceptive sales pitch that lured hundreds of thousands of investorsto buy the securities. Since 2008, most auctions have failedleaving the market largely frozen. The victims ranged fromindividual investors to the Joffee Foundation, a nonprofit that canno longer fund programs that help prevent AIDS in Africa, to thePort Authority of New York.
While this is a classic 21st century tale of WallStreet greed and betrayal, it is also a story of redemption and thelife-altering struggle of American investors and others around theworld who, in the end, beat the Wall Street fraud-masters. Ruthlessis a story of how individual investors became mad as hell andjoined together to reclaim their cash investments. So farthey’ve reclaimed more than $200 billion and continuefighting for the rest. A lively, page-turning guide for anyinvestor with a stunning lesson on how to fight back and win.
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About the Author
PHIL TRUPP is a veteran investigative journalist, and the author of many books, including Sea of Dreamers: Travels with Famous Ocean Explorers and Tracking Treasure: Romance & Fortune Beneath the Sea and How to Find It! He is also a regular commentator for New York Times Dealbook and New York Magazine Online, as well as a weekly contributor to www.auctionratepreferreds.org, the Internet's top site on auction-rate securities (ARS). Trupp was assistant bureau chief of Fairchild Publications/ABC CapCities, where he covered the White House, Pentagon, Supreme Court, Treasury, NASA, and the Federal Reserve, and, today, lectures on "The Future of Journalism" at American and Georgetown Universities.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xi
Chapter 1 "Deal With It!" 5
Chapter 2 The "Back Nine" 23
Chapter 3 A Sweet Deal-Until It's Not 41
Chapter 4 "I Have No Dreams" 59
Chapter 5 Bill Meets Mohela 79
Chapter 6 Power to the Blogosphere 93
Chapter 7 Radioactive Man 107
Chapter 8 Armies of the Unseen 121
Chapter 9 Day of Deliverance 139
Chapter 10 The Newton Factor 153
Chapter 11 Harry the Hit Man 167
Chapter 12 The Raymond James Caper 177
Chapter 13 What's It All About, Barney? 191
Chapter 14 Stretching to Meet the Man 213
Chapter 15 State of Play 2009 227
Chapter 16 Kathy's War 239
Chapter 17 Hopeful Signs from the Hill 255
Chapter 18 Going to Meet the Man 263
Chapter 19 The View from Here 281
About the Author 313