Swimming With Sharks – My Journey into the World of the Bankers (Joris Luyendijk)

Swimming With Sharks

A hugely informing book, with tons & tons of anonymous insider information & direct accounts from bankers & members of the financial sector on the industries internal machinations. Yes, that’s straight from the horse’s mouth, off-record (or rather with assured anonymity) revelations & insight from sources operating in the profession from a wealth of positions. The author was no expert in Finance, but was asked by the Guardian newspaper to construct a blog in 2011 from “a beginner’s perspective” & share his results. As he puts it “So that’s how a Dutch journalist with five years’ experience in the Middle East and a degree in anthropology ended up in the City on an unusual investigation: Tintin among the bankers.” Joris at first experiences reticence & desolation, but eventually builds up a substantial cast of contacts & bean-spillers. Strict confidentiality was essential, especially as the finical & banking industries are very punitive to any employees that would speak to the press outside of a PR-preened performance-piece (“severance clauses” even state explicitly that nothing can be revealed about time within the firm). As you can probably imagine, this is an absolute repository of info. Well written & vitally – very human, in a topic & area of the least-human acronyms, terminology & jargonic-obfuscation, it discloses an incredible volume & perspective. It’s hard to isolate the most pertinent/alarming uncovering’s, but sections on the hours before & “during” the 2008 crash were very formidable. I’ve heard other accounts that mirror the terror these sources expressed. Joris details stories of “bankers stocking-up on guns, ‘ready to bed down in bunkers if civil society collapsed’” & “ ‘Get as much money from the ATM as you can.’ ‘Rush to the supermarket and hoard food.’ ‘Buy Gold’ ‘Get everything ready to evacuate the kids to the countryside.’”. Clearly they were absolutely terrified & still even recalling this phase seems to frighten many of them acutely. That’s all the more ineffably-disturbing considering that the “international community” & particularly this death-curse of a government in the UK seem to be doing their best to conduce a second crash as quickly as possible (apparently, at this rate, it’s assured & the only question is when, i.e. as soon as possible with this insane nullfidian scum-bag of a Chance-Seller paving expedited ruin). But when you think how monumental the profits have been, & continue to be post 2008, & the fact that it’s allowed the largest transfer of wealth in human history along with as state of permanent emergency & indefinite aberration of normality in “economic stability”, it’s no wonder that the bastards want more! just a wonder that “the people” allow it. The coverage of banker-psychology, individual thoughts, justifications, guilt, & yes, industry-criticism, along with their working conditions are also revelatory. In a way, the books quasi-un-emphasised conclusion is that the system itself is designed to over-consume, imperil & destabilize by it’s very nature. It’ not that perpetrators in this monstrous megalith are not guilty, but that they function more like pieces of machinery in a giant behemoth of berserk virulence that’s instincts & very physical being are all based on doom, rape, rapacity, exploitation & foaming-fanaticism without any acknowledged limit, braking device or safety protocol. A superbly written, crucial trove to understanding this obscene threat that’s worse now than ever.  –Special thanks to John Dollar

 Author: Joris Luyendijk

Publisher: Guardian Books/Faber & Faber