Theft of a Nation

Wall Street Looting and Federal Regulatory Colluding

By (author) Gregg Barak

Publication date:

02 August 2012

Length of book:

226 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442207783

Theft of a Nation presents a powerful criminological examination of Wall Street’s recent financial meltdown and its profound impact on the rest of the country. This provocative book asks why, if the actions of key players on Wall Street and in the government resulted in an economic downturn that harmed millions of Americans and destroyed capital worldwide, no one was held criminally liable for these actions.

Author Gregg Barak provides a basic history of financial regulation and deregulation, as well as a primer on both securities fraud and mass victimization. Using key concepts in victimology and white collar crime, he explores the diverse ways civil and criminal law enforcement responded to the damaging behavior on Wall Street. The book also assesses Wall Street Financial Reform and the Consumer Protection Act of 2010, showing the ways that Americans may still be at risk.

Theft of a Nation is the first comprehensive criminological investigation of the role of Wall Street and the government in the recent financial crisis, asking critical questions about who has been victimized and why.
While many factors contributed to the recent financial crisis and subsequent great recession (e.g., repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, increasingly complex derivatives), Barak (criminal justice, Eastern Michigan Univ.) lays the blame squarely on Wall Street leaders. He asserts their unethical and illegal behavior was aided by the incompetence of regulators and the lack of criminal prosecution of any fraud committed by the largest banks and their managers. Not one senior executive from a major financial institution has yet to be criminally prosecuted, and civil cases were settled without participants admitting guilt. According to Barak, these "finance capitalists who have great wealth, prestige, and access to politicos at the highest level of government were afforded ample opportunities to make, break, and neutralize, if not capture, the laws of regulation." For example, the Troubled Asset Relief Program funneled millions for bonuses to individuals responsible for the crisis and the loss of trillions of dollars by homeowners, municipalities, and pension plans. Barak suggests that recent regulations (e.g., the Dodd-Frank Act) will not improve the financial environment without enforcement. A glossary, extensive footnotes, and an index add to the book's usefulness. Summing Up: Recommended.