Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Financial Crisis & Haslett's Union Atlantic

Now that I've posted about bond traders and Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, how about some finance fiction for the 21st century?

Here's last week's Wall Street Journal article, "EU Approves Bonus Caps for Bankers":"
The European Parliament passed new rules Tuesday that will cap bankers' bonuses and boost banks' capital buffers, clearing the last hurdle for the legislation to come into force next year. The rules will limit bankers' bonuses to 100% of annual salary, or twice the annual salary if shareholders explicitly approve.
The compromise deal, which was approved by a majority vote, was hammered out earlier this month between European lawmakers and member states in the face of opposition from the U.K., home to Europe's largest financial hub. Britain has warned that banks could move their operations to the U.S. or Asia, as a result of the new rules.
"The rules will put an end to the culture of excessive bonuses, which encouraged risk-taking for short-term gains," said José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. "If taxpayers are being asked to pick up the bill after the financial crisis, banks must also make a contribution."

For a novel about the financial crisis, try Union Atlantic by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Haslett:
In Haslett's excellent first novel (following Pulitzer and National Book Award finalist short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here), a titan of the banking industry does battle with a surprisingly formidable opponent: a retired history teacher. Doug Fanning has built Union Atlantic from a mid-size Boston bank to an international powerhouse and rewards himself by building a rural palace in Finden, Mass. The land his house is built on, however, had been donated to Finden for preservation by Charlotte Graves's grandfather, and Charlotte believes she now has a claim on the lot. She may be right, and her disdain of modern decadence means bad news for Doug should she win in court.... This book should be of interest to readers fascinated but perplexed by the current financial crisis, as it is able to navigate the oubliette of Wall Street trading to create searing and intimate drama.

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