From Publishers Weekly
Perino, law professor at St. John's University, recounts the 1933 investigation into Wall Street abuses by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, focusing on the 10-day interrogation by chief counsel Ferdinand Pecora of executives of National City Bank (precursor to Citigroup). A morass of tawdry scams surfaced in the hearings: the bank's in-house stock pools artificially inflated its own stock; bank officers gave themselves no-interest (and apparently no-repayment) loans; mom-and-pop investors relying on National City's supposedly impartial advice were sold dubious securities in which the bank had a hidden financial interest. The author argues that Pecora's revelations, coming amid the 1933 bank collapse, stoked public outrage and paved the way for unprecedented government regulation of the financial system. Perino's narrative is a lucid account of period banking and stock-market swindles and a crackerjack legal drama, as Pecora's cunning, relentless questioning demolished the bankers' evasions. (The Sicilian immigrant's triumph over the WASP financial elite also heralded a social revolution, the author contends.) Perino's book is a trenchant, entertaining study of the New Deal's heroic beginnings, one with obvious relevance to latter-day efforts to rein in Wall Street's excesses.
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Academic and securities authority Perino recounts in detail the dramatic story of the Senate hearings on the causes of the 1929 stock market crash. These hearings concluded shortly before President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous inaugural address on March 4, 1933, in which he noted that the only thing Americans had to fear was fear itself. This is the tale of 10 critical days of those Senate hearings led by Ferdinand Pecora, an Italian immigrant lawyer, New York City’s former assistant district attorney and chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. Prior to 1933, the federal government did not concern itself with Wall Street. Pecora’s hearings represented the first time in U.S. history that Wall Street was subjected to a public accounting, and Pecora’s skill in taking the spirit of the early Depression and drawing from it hard facts and concrete evidence changed forever the relationship between Wall Street and Washington. This excellent book is timely in light of the 2008 turmoil in financial markets. --Mary Whaley