IN THIS SUMMARY
In March 2009, 13 executives of the most powerful financial institutions in America met with the president at the White House at the height of a profound financial crisis which threatened the very existence of the organizations they represented. In 13 Bankers, authors Simon Johnson and James Kwak use this meeting as a focal point for analyzing the financial industry and regulatory environment in the decades leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Although the government and taxpayers bailed out the largest and most powerful banks in the country, the government did not attempt to reform the industry or to replace the management of large, failed banks. Johnson and Kwak believe that the core problem is that large, powerful banks are too big to fail, that they relentlessly continue to expand their political influence in Washington, and that they essentially constitute an oligarchy – a group that wins political power due to its economic clout, and then uses its political power for self-serving purposes. Their message: without changes to the financial system that include breaking up the very large banks, the United States will face another economic crisis that could be more severe than the last.