Why Bankers Anonymous?
A friend asked me that recently, and I answered him in the audio link above. I recommend clicking there for my answer.
but if you’re not yet in the listening or link-clicking mood…
I’ve worked as a Wall Street bond salesman, hedge fund investor, small business owner, distressed debt investor, and financial consultant for the past 15 years. Throughout, I listened to friends, colleagues, and the media discuss the financial world around me. Too often I see a gap larger than the Balrog’s Abyss in the Mines of Moria between what I know to be true and the way we speak about finance.
Whether you blame financial illiteracy, willful ignorance, or savvy financial professionals ensuring job security by making the markets seem un-interpretable to people without advanced degrees – whatever it is, our civic lack of understanding of finance allowed a global financial crisis to happen with minimal public knowledge of the root causes of that crisis. Financial illiteracy allows politicians and pundits to toss out terms like credit default swaps without ever explaining what they are, and without knowing whether they are deadly weapons in the hands of Godfather-like bankstas, or as healthful and scrumptious as Nutella on freshly baked bread.
My goal here is to be that guy, the one you wish you knew who worked inside Wall Street, left the business, and is willing to talk about it. On B$A, I post first-name-only podcasts interviewing insiders who are, like me, willing to speak truthfully. I write blog postings about whatever I feel needs explaining or demystifying from the headlines or from your questions. I review financial books partly to save you the brain damage of having to read them, but also mostly because they often serve as a way to explain something that’s been on my mind. The book reviews are really worth reading. As are the footnotes. I post links to purchase the books I review on Amazon.com because that seems like a sensible way to use the interwebs, and theoretically, referral fees would be a neat way to fund my reading habit.
I think everyone should understand what Too Big To Fail actually means, why taking stock tips from a guy who rings buzzers and makes flushing sound effects might not be the best choice and why, collectively, we as Americans are in debt up to our ears, in houses that are underwater, in a country that is mostly in hock to China.
It’s time for us all to wake up from our collective post-crisis hangover. Please grab a coffee and join me at the moderately clean table in the back of the support group meeting. My name is Michael, and I’m a banker. It’s been five years since I managed a hedge fund.
Who am I?
Like all good bankers, I graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1995. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico in 1996, and worked as a fixed income consultant from 1996 to 1997. I sold bonds for Goldman Sachs in the Emerging Markets and Mortgage Departments from 1997 to 2004. In 2004, I founded Cedarcrest Capital LLC, a purchaser of distressed fixed income assets. I serve as Finance Chair and Investment Chair for the Board of Trustees of the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West.
I’m not really anonymous, my name is Michael Taylor. I just liked the thematic link to ‘getting sober,’ about money and finance.
Where to find me?
All my stuff is here. My work is also regularly featured on the finance site www.businessinsider.com and a weekly column in the San Antonio Express News. Also twitter @bankeranonymous, facebook as Bankersanonymous. and YouTube. I have been featured on the BBC’s NewsHour and World Have Your Say programs, and frankly I’d like to do some more of that.