By James Kwak
13 Bankers is #11 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list.* I’m certain that could not have happened without the readers of this blog. (Actually, the book would not have existed in the first place without this blog, and the blog wouldn’t exist without readers.) It’s also #4 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover business list and #14 on the Indiebound hardcover nonfiction list.
In other major news, the book is Arianna Huffington’s pick for April, which means that there will be a month of blog posts by us and by other bloggers at the Huffington Post. Our first post in the series, arguing against the “banana peel” theory of the financial crisis, is already up. We’ve lined up a wide range of commentators, several of whom we expect to disagree with us rather strongly.
We also have some full-length video of presentations by Simon. Over the next week, I’ll be in Providence and Simon will be in Chicago and Los Angeles (schedule here). Simon has a bunch of interviews; I’ll be on Sense on Cents tomorrow evening.
* The list is for the week ending April 3. It goes on the Web on April 9 but doesn’t go into the print edition until April 18, by which point it is two weeks out of date. (One friend thinks the lag is to give bookstores enough time to stock their shelves.)
By James Kwak
(This is an occasional update on this blog. For more frequent news and reviews, see the 13 Bankers site.)
Since the last update here, we’ve gotten several more reviews: The Daily Beast, Fortune, The Aleph Blog, and Rortybomb, to name a few. Links to many reviews are here. (If you wrote a review and want us to link to it, send me an email at baselinescenario at gmail dot com.)
I’ve also updated the list of past media appearances that you can view online, so you can see Simon’s suit from many different angles. In particular, I’d like to flag the Firedoglake Book Salon from this past weekend, where Bill Black hosted an in-depth, online discussion with Simon. I’ve also updated the list of upcoming events (in-person and media). For those in Rhode Island, there’s a last-minute addition: I’ll be talking at Brown this Sunday.
Some people have asked how the book is selling. I know little about the publishing industry, but I believe the accurate answer is always, “I don’t know.” Our Amazon book ranking is in the 40s, which we are grateful for. (Michael Lewis was #1 for a couple of weeks until he was completely blown out of the water by Stephenie Meyer’s next vampire novel, which isn’t even shipping until June.) But as for bookstore sales (which are still several times Amazon sales), you really don’t know, because bookstores can return unsold copies. So it’s too early to tell.
Update: Simon’s entire event (over one hour) at the World Affairs Council of Washington is available on C-SPAN.
By Simon Johnson
On Friday afternoon, NPR’s All Things Considered broadcast Robert Siegel’s interview with me on 13 Bankers (further down that link there is an excerpt from the very beginning of the book).
We talked, naturally enough, about how the ideas in 13 Bankers connect with the current policy debate – specifically the financial reform legislation now before the Senate. As anticipated when the book went to press in January, some sensible measures to protect consumers of financial products seem possible – yet this progress just emphasizes how and why we have not yet broken through on Too Big To Fail issues.
But there is a broader point here also. What happened in 2008-09 should not be allowed to happen again. The nature of power in and around the financial sector has become so great – and so distorted – that it harms the rest of us.
I don’t think a majority of Americans understand how much influence financial institutions have in Washington, DC. Banks used to answer to Washington. They were once held accountable for their actions. That is no longer is the case. Continue reading ““13 Bankers”: National Public Radio Interview”
By James Kwak
So, we have a book that goes on sale a week from Tuesday (although you can pre-order it now). We created another blog for book-specific news, in order to avoid cluttering this blog with too much book stuff. But we are going to provide occasional updates (like this one) here with a few highlights.
In the last week, we got a friendly review by Arnold Kling, we learned that the books do actually exist, and we put up a page with some in-person events in case you’re wondering if we look like our photos. We also put up our first factual correction, having to do with the 10 percent cap on deposits. Note that we are interested in correcting errors of fact — we put a lot of effort into getting the facts right, including hiring our own professional fact-checkers (that’s another blog post for another time). If you think we made an error of interpretation (or an error of theory) . . . well, we’re happy to think about it, but don’t expect a correction.
The day that President Obama came out in favor of size and scope limits for banks seems like a good day to tell you about our new book, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown–in which we argue for hard size limits on banks, among other things. While we end up talking about the financial crisis, the way the government responded to it, and the too big to fail issue, it’s really a book about power–the economic and political power of the banking industry both recently and throughout American history, the problems it creates, and what we can do about it.
The book will be out on April 6 (or maybe a week earlier), but you can already pre-order it wherever books are pre-ordered. In the meantime, to learn more, we have a new book web site with its own blog (for book-related news and thoughts).
Now, back to proof-reading . . .
By James Kwak