by Nomi Prins
(New York: Nation Books, 2014)
Hardcover: 544 pages
Who rules America?
All the Presidents’ Bankers is a groundbreaking narrative of how an elite group of men transformed the American economy and government, dictated foreign and domestic policy, and shaped world history.
Culled from original presidential archival documents, All the Presidents’ Bankers delivers an explosive account of the 100-year interdependence between the White House and Wall Street that transcends a simple analysis of money driving politics — or greed driving bankers.
Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. These families and individuals recycle their power through elected office and private channels in Washington, DC.
All the Presidents’ Bankers sheds new light on pivotal historic events — such as why, after the Panic of 1907, America’s dominant bankers convened to fashion the Federal Reserve System; how J. P. Morgan’s ambitions motivated President Wilson during World War I; how Chase and National City Bank chairmen worked secretly with President Roosevelt to rescue capitalism during the Great Depression while J.P. Morgan Jr invited Roosevelt’s son yachting; and how American financiers collaborated with President Truman to construct the World Bank and IMF after World War II.
Prins divulges how, through the Cold War and Vietnam era, presidents and bankers pushed America’s superpower status and expansion abroad, while promoting broadly democratic values and social welfare at home. But from the 1970s, Wall Street’s rush to secure Middle East oil profits altered the nature of political-financial alliances. Bankers’ profit motive trumped heritage and allegiance to public service, while presidents lost control over the economy — as was dramatically evident in the financial crisis of 2008.
This unprecedented history of American power illuminates how the same financiers retained their authoritative position through history, swaying presidents regardless of party affiliation. All the Presidents’ Bankers explores the alarming global repercussions of a system lacking barriers between public office and private power. Prins leaves us with an ominous choice: either we break the alliances of the power elite, or they will break us.
About the author
Nomi Prins is a renowned author, journalist and speaker. Her new book, All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power, was published on April 8, 2014. Her last book, Black Tuesday, was a historical novel about the 1929 crash. Before that, she wrote the hard-hitting book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street. She is also the author of Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America, which predicted the current financial crisis, and was chosen as a Best Book of 2004 by The Economist, Barron’s and The Library Journal, and Jacked: How “Conservatives” are Picking your Pocket (whether you voted for them or not).
She has been a featured commentator on numerous national and international TV programs including for: BBC World, RtTV, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, Democracy Now, Fox and PBS. She has been featured on hundreds of radio shows globally including for CNNRadio, Marketplace, NPR, BBC and Canadian Programming. She has been featured in numerous documentaries produced by companies from the U.S., Norway, France, Germany and other places, alongside other prominent thought-leaders and Nobel Prize winners, including most recently, The Big Fix, Heist and Plunder.
Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune, Newsday, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Slate, The Guardian (UK), The Nation, Alternet, LaVanguardia and other publications.
Endorsements and reviews
“All the Presidents’ Bankers spins an enormous amount of research into a coherent, readable narrative. Even her frequent kvetches about the lifestyles of rich and famous bankers are entertaining…. There is always room for criticism, and Ms Prins does it rather well. Banking was her first career before taking up journalism. She can talk the talk and is knowledgeable about the many points where banking and public policy intersect.... Give her credit… for seeing through the façade of Dodd-Frank into the danger of another meltdown that lurks in our day of quasi-nationalized banking.”
— George Melloan, Wall Street Journal
“A calm, authoritative elucidation of verifiable history.”
— Financial Times
“Even those who have read Secrets of the Temple, William Greider’s massive and brilliant 1987 exposé of the Federal Reserve, will find Prins’s book worth their time. She presents a new narrative, one that shows how the changing cast of six has shaped America’s fortunes under presidents in both parties.”
— American Prospect
“Prins divides her justifiably long text into digestible one- to three-page segments and seamlessly incorporates dozens of prominent banker profiles. Her work is highly recommended both to general readers and to students of financial history.”
— Library Journal
“A revealing look at the often symbiotic, sometimes-adversarial relationship between the White House and Wall Street.... [A] sweeping history of bank presidents and their relationships with the nation’s chief executives.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“The relationship between Washington and Wall Street isn’t really a revolving door. Its a merry-go-round. And, as Prins shows, the merriest of all are the bankers and financiers that get rich off the relationship, using their public offices and access to build private wealth and power. Disturbing and important.”
— Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
“Nomi Prins follows the money. She used to work on Wall Street. And now she has written a seminal history of America’s bankers and their symbiotic relationship with all the presidents from Teddy Roosevelt through Barack Obama. It is an astonishing tale. All the Presidents’ Bankers relies on the presidential archives to reveal how power works in this American democracy. Prins writes in the tradition of C. Wright Mills, Richard Rovere and William Greider. Her book is a stunning contribution to the history of the American Establishment.”
— Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames
“Nomi Prins takes us on a brisk, panoramic and eye-opening tour of more than a century’s interplay between America’s government and its major banks — exposing the remarkable dominance of six major banks, and for most of the period, the same families, over U.S. financial policy.”
— Charles R. Morris, author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown
“Nomi Prins has written a big book you just wish was bigger: page after page of killer stories of bank robbers who’ve owned the banks — and owned the White House. Prins is a born story-teller. She turns the history of the moneyed class into a breathless, page-turning romance — the tawdry affairs of bankers and the presidents who love them. It’s brilliant inside stuff on unforgettable, and unforgivable, scoundrels.”
— Greg Palast, Investigative reporter for BBC Television and author of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
“In this riveting, definitive history, Nomi Prins reveals how U.S. policy has been largely dominated by a circle of the same banking and political dynasties. For more than a century, Presidents often acquiesced or participated as bankers subverted democracy, neglected the public interest, and stole power from the American people.”
— Paul Craig Roberts, former Wall Street Journal editor and Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury
“Nomi Prins has done it again — this time with a must read, a gripping, historical story on the first corporate staters — the handful of powerful bankers and their decisive influence over the White House and the Treasury Department from the inside and from the outside to the detriment of the people. All the Presidents’ Bankers speaks to the raw truth today of what Louis D. Brandeis said a hundred years ago: ‘We must break the Money Trust or the Money Trust will break us.’”
— Ralph Nader
“Money has been the common denominator in American politics for the last 115 years, as Nomi Prins admirably points out. All the Presidents’ Bankers is an excellent survey of how money influences power and comes dangerously close to threatening democracy.”
— Charles Geisst, author of Wall Street: A History
“All the Presidents’ Bankers is gracefully written, carefully researched and accessible. It is a must read for anyone concerned with politics and economics — in other words, just about everybody.”
— Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.