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Taming the Street

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Taming the Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal, and FDR's Fight to Regulate American Capitalism (this review is from an ARC sent to me by Netgalley)
Author: Diana Henriques.
Taming the Street describes how President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled to regulate Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression.
Henriques details the fraudulent practices that precipitated the 1929 crash, including banks knowingly selling investors worthless bonds and investors conspiring to create artificial stock market rallies during which they sold shares at marked up rates. The Roosevelt administration created the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was tasked with regulating over-the-counter stocks, utility holding companies, and the New York Stock Exchange. The main characters overseeing the SEC were Joseph P. Kennedy, first SEC chairman; William O. Douglas, the Yale law professor who succeeded Kennedy as SEC chair; Richard Whitney, who as NYSE president resisted SEC oversight until he was caught embezzling customers’ assets in 1938; and Franklin D. Roosevelt himself was determined to make capitalism work for the everyday person. This is a well-researched book and the author elucidates the issues in a clear and concise way, making the subject matter interesting and fascinating.

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Probably more of a 3.5, but rounded up for importance of the topic. And for having some twists that I just did NOT expect.

Henriques wrote this book with a very clear agenda. In the 1920s, the wealthier got more so, there were no regulations to keep that in check, and it hurt the country. And she sees that we're slipping back there--this book is 100% a warning, but also an illustration of how things can be made better. Toward the end of the book, she writes, "A healthy democracy cannot survive without a fair economy," which is as good a way of expressing her thesis as can be. Also "Roosevelt said: Let's lift up the great mass of ordinary people--give them a living wage to spend, safe ways to spend and invest, a pension for their old age, affordable utility bills--and let them fuel a prosperous economy in which the rich can benefit along with everyone else. Let's put some rules in place that will give everyone a fair shot."

Henriques frames the book around four men: Franklin Roosevelt; Joseph Kennedy, eventual ambassador to Great Britain; Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange; and future Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas. She details the problems with the 1920s economy; I was surprised to find out how NOT roaring it was for the majority of the country. The mechanics behind the stock market crashes was interesting to learn about.

Unfortunately, the actual details of how the stock market worked and the regulations proposed and the abuses thereof never totally clicked for me (much, I'm sure, to my father's chagrin). I quite enjoyed her writing and storytelling, but definitely got bogged down in the details a lot, which sometimes made this a challenge to read. I'm still not sure what "over the counter"...somethings...are.

But when dealing with the rest, I was really involved in the book. The intrigue of creating the Securities and Exchange Commission, who would be on it, how they completed their work; the scandals on Wall Street; the politics--it was great. There was just so much in there that I didn't know, and I made a LOT of highlights. It didn't hurt that Henriques is an unapologetic FDR fan. And so much of the content echoes in today's world ("'We hear about constitutional rights, free speech and the free press,' [Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague] told reporters. 'Every time I hear these words, I say to myself, "that man is a Red, that man is a Communist." You never hear a real American talk in that manner.'").

Not the easiest read, but frequently an enjoyable one, and an important one.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the digital ARC!

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I've read a LOT about FDR and his life, and in economics class, we discussed the causes and solutions to the Great Depression, but I've never read a book that concentrated on the Wall Street aspect of the crisis.

While there were a few other players in the game, this book mainly follows the path FDR took when he was governor of New York at the beginning of the Great Depression, to his election to the Presidency. Another prominent figure in the book was Joseph P. Kennedy, father to a president and two senators,

The men worked together to reform finance and the way the stock market worked in order to stabilize the market. The subsequent regulations created assured that something catastrophic could not happen to Wall Street again, although that would prove to be false.

I always enjoy a thoroughly researched and documented book about American history, and this book does not disappoint. It took a while to get through simply because of the intricacy of the story, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the stock market crash of 1929 and the attempts made to recover.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House and the author for an Advanced Reader's copy in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

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The Fight to Regulate American Capitalism

The book reviewed is 'Taming the Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal, and FDR’s Fight to Regulate American Capitalism" by Diana B. Henriques. It was a great history of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s struggle to level the playing field for ordinary Americans interested in investing and saving.

Diana B. Henriques is a financial journalist and well qualified to tell this story. I’d like to thanks both Netgalley and Random House for allowing me to read Taming the Street before publication.

As a small investor, I could be interested in a short article about the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) but would probably not normally read a book that promised to be a detailed history of how the SEC came about. But because I had reviewed '.Becoming FDR'. last year, Random House invited me to try the advanced reader copy (ARC) of Taming the Street via Netgalley. In the hands of this writer, it was a fascinating book.

Before the New Deal, insiders controlled and manipulated the stock market for their benefit and often to the detriment of ordinary Americans. There was very little oversight. What regulation there was, was self-regulation. FDR thought that this needed to change.

Much of the book is about the political struggles to create the SEC and give it the power to make the difference in spite of much opposition. There is also a discussion about the constant pressure to deregulate the world of finance and the resulting dangers.

The author’s Preface to this book is what convinced me to read the rest of the book. I’ll just relate a part the stuck with me. (I hope it is in the final edition). The author mentioned the SEC on Twitter and someone replied that the smart investor had no need for the SEC with all its rules. He could protect himself by reading the information supplied by the company in the 10-K report. As it turns out, the 10-K was not required before SEC. So I hope a the person who thought regulation was not needed reconsidered his views.

The book is a long one (464 pages) but that includes notes, etc. If you don’t think you have the interest to read it all, give it a try and if you still think it is too much, just read the Preface and Epilogue.

Highly recommend for those with an interest in the New Deal or the US economy. Recommended for the general reader.

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Taming the Street
By Diana B. Henriques

This is an in-depth recounting of how unregulated capitalism and the Wall Street tycoons brought the stock market to its knees in the 1920s and 1930s – and how four men with different agendas were able to work together to save our economy.

The four men were: Joseph P. Kennedy, Hollywood impresario; Dick Whitney, president of the stock exchange; William O. Douglas, college professor involved in studies of the people who were ruined by the crash; and Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States. All of these men realized that what were accepted market practices were the path to financial devastation. Stock manipulation – buying on margin, selling short, etc – only benefitted the already rich. The little guy lost everything when these practices lead to the market bottoming out.

All four men realized that the Street needed to be regulated to protect the majority of Americans and allow them to benefit from investing in stocks. The Securities Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve were born out of the need for drastic change to save the economy and capitalism in America.

This book presents a well-researched account of how the current regulated economy supplanted free-range capitalism and gave the average Americans some protections against the predations of those who formerly Ruled Wall Street.

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Since I was a kid, I’ve always had an interest in the Great Depression (thanks American Girl!). Over the years I’ve collected bits and pieces of it through different media and my own research. Aside from other books about Franklin Delano Roosevelt which speak a lot about the Great Depression, I haven’t read any books solely dedicated to the topic before now.

The book predominantly follows the roles of FDR and Joseph P. Kennedy at the time of the 1929 stock market crash and its aftermath. When FDR was elected as president of the United States in 1932, he vowed to amend the way the country handled finance. Thus, the New Deal was born.

Though I found the writing strong and engaging enough, this is the kind of book I would have enjoyed more as an audiobook. The topic is interesting, just long (as it should be). I learned a lot, so for that reason, I was glad to be able to save highlights. It’s a great addition to any history nerd’s library.

A huge thanks to Random House for inviting me to read the digital ARC through NetGalley!

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Taming the Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal, and FDR's Fight to Regulate American Capitalism by Diana B. Henriques offers a compelling exploration of the unchecked capitalism that dominated the Jazz Age and the profound aftermath it left in its wake. This narrative not only retains its relevance but also assumes an imperative significance.

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In school, you sort of vaguely touch on things like stock exchanges, the Great Depression, and the New Deal. I knew that I didn’t really understand any of those things at all, though, so when I was offered the chance to read “Taming the Street: The Old Guard, The New Deal, and FDR’s Fight To Regulate American Capitalism,” by Diana B. Henriques, it felt like a good chance to learn something new, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Henriques opens the tale by introducing us to a cast of characters surrounding Wall Street in the late 1920s, and proceeds to tell a story of how their actions, good and bad, weave together to create the New York Stock Exchange as it existed in the 1930s - a house of cards held together by shady dealings and Elmer’s glue, as FDR could see, and to which he went to work attempting to regulate once and for all. We learn about the formation of the Securities & Exchange Commission, and how the fledgling agency struggled to take control of Wall Street and its underhanded business practices. Along the way, I surprised myself by how attached I became to the people involved - “Holy s**t, no!!” I exclaimed about halfway through the book, upon learning of one central character’s misdeeds, and then thought, wow, I cared about that a lot, huh?

And that’s the thing that makes “Taming the Street” compelling, I think. You could learn about the stock market crash and the subsequent regulation that came from it by reading a textbook, but it’s the people involved that make it really interesting, that make you want to keep reading when there isn’t gonna be an 11th grade US History test later, and that’s the side of the story that you aren’t going to learn about in school. A story filled with names and dates and regulations could be pretty darn dry and dull, but most of the time I found myself wanting to know more, intrigued by how things would shake out as we got closer and closer to the present day, and this book was written with a very accessible tone and language, so that I never felt too bogged down while reading, or like I was mixing up dates and events in my head, like sometimes happens when reading (less enjoyable) history books.

Who will enjoy “Taming the Street”? US History nerds, of course. It’s quite a niche topic to read for pleasure, isn’t it? As someone who almost exclusively enjoys reading nonfiction and who has a particular interest in US history and government topics, this was extremely up my alley, so if those are your areas of interest as well, I can highly recommend “Taming the Street.”

Thanks to NetGalley, Random House, and the author for the chance to read & review “Taming the Street” prior to publication.

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Just finished and early review copy of Diana B. Henriques latest
Taming The Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal, and FDR's Fight to Regulate American Capitalism

Delving into the heart of financial tales, there's an intoxicating chapter many might've overlooked, perhaps lost in the haze of Martini-fueled nights at Harry's of Hanover Square. Picture the enigmatic streets of New York post-'29 crash; the formidable NYSE dancing a tango with the emerging SEC. The ensemble? New Deal FDR, charismatic rogue Joe Kennedy turned reformer, the determined William Douglas head of the SEC, and the ever-intriguing President of the NYSE, Dick Whitney. Whitney's saga, is a rollercoaster ride, moving from the apex of Wall Street's top gentlemen to a dark twist reminiscent of Madoff, ensnared by his own deceptive allure. Only to be led off in handcuffs to sing-sing in the end.

Compelled by the twists and turns of Ms. Henriques telling, I had to revist John Brooks' "Once in Golconda" for additional financial escapades of the roaring '20s. No matter where your allegiances lie in the age-old dance of regulation debates, this tale, woven with both intricacies and allure, invites profound introspection. And as you're drawn deeper, the magnetic charm of Joe Kennedy emerges, hinting at a chapter from the 20th century, both captivating and perhaps, underestimated.

The book is available on September 12th. Don't miss it!

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This is an exceptionally well written and thoroughly researched book. As a person with an MBA, I was aware of most of the movements made by FDR and the government on the American business community.

However, this book has an exceptional depth of research that is thoroughly refreshing, combined with a smooth writing style, that many writers of history books with thoroughly could enjoy

I highly recommend this book for people who have a serious interest in the American business and its history.

I received an advance review copy from Net Galley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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