We passed the wrecked Ferraris on our way to celebrate at a London restaurant famous for its Flaming Ferraris, a cocktail designed for young bankers. In the cab were four young bankers, a senior banker, and myself. We had earlier in the week been told our year-end bonuses.

The senior banker, already with three afternoon beers in him, nodded to the wrecked Ferrari, its hood bent around a lightpost: “January in London, when pimpled bankers blow their bonuses on cars they can’t drive to try and impress women who can’t think.”

The four young bankers laughed nervously. Two had just purchased expensive sports cars.

Wall Street traders get millions of dollars in cash at the end of every year.

Do they deserve it?

For the most part, American bankers whose rash pursuit of profit brought on the 2008 global financial collapse didn’t get indicted. They got bonuses.

Odds are that scandal would have played out differently in Vietnam, another nation struggling with misbehaving bankers.

Amid a sweeping cleanup of its financial sector, Vietnam has sentenced three bankers to death in the past six months.

One duo now on death row embezzled roughly $25 million from the state-owned Vietnam Agribank. Their co-conspirators caught decade-plus prison sentences.

Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating U.S. trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishment you’d get? How about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!

Elizabeth Warren introduced a new Glass-Steagall bill to stop Wall Street banks from gambling with the life savings of regular families.

This video is a short clip of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren giving a history lesson to a CNBC host. 


The Woes of Wall Street: Why Young Bankers Are So Miserable

Over a few beers after work one spring evening, two junior Goldman Sachs employees started contemplating the best ways to kill themselves.

“If the goal is, like, how do I inflict maximum psychological damage, then I think just going up to your desk and blowing your brains out in the middle of the day would be the best,” said Jeremy Miller-Reed, 23.

“Nah,” said Samson White, 22. “You know what would happen? All the other analysts would get an e-mail from the associates saying, ‘Can you guys clean this up?’ And then everyone would go back to work.”

Jeremy and Samson—I’ve change their names to protect their anonymity—were first-year analysts at Goldman. They’d arrived from their Ivy League campuses less than a year before, fresh-faced and idealistic. Jeremy had gotten placed in commodities, and Samson had made a home in the firm’s mortgage division. Good friends since their summer internships the year before, they’d been excited, at first, to join the ranks and get to work making money. But quickly, their enthusiasm had been buried underneath massive piles of work, grueling hours, and unforgiving bosses. In one particularly bleak moment, they’d started calling Goldman’s downtown headquarters “Azkaban,” after the prison in the Harry Potter series where inmates’ souls are sucked from their bodies.

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