The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class SurvivesThe Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 10th 2017
Pages: 272
Goodreads

An urgent, absorbing exposé—why Americans are fleeing our broken banking system in growing numbers, and how alternatives are rushing in to do what banks once did
What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high‑net‑worth entrepreneur, and a twenty‑something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. Today nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their low- and middle-income customers, while serving only the wealthiest Americans.   Lisa Servon delivers a stunning indictment of America’s banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. She works as a teller at RiteCheck, a check‑cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland. She looks closely at the workings of a tanda, an informal lending club.  And she delivers fascinating, hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs reacting to the unbanking of America by designing systems to creatively serve many of us.  Banks were once essential pillars of our lives; now we can no longer count on them to do right by us.
"Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the 'unbanked' are a sector deserving of respect and solid options."Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives was very interesting, I like many people look at check cashing and payday loan operations as near criminal. Lisa Servon, begs to differ, she takes us on a imitate look at how these companies function with the communities they serve. We have been led to believe that check cashing and payday loan stores are just a step above mob loan sharks. The author paints a totally different picture of how these operations function within their communities. As with any business there are bad actors but on the whole, these banking alternatives service a large group of people.

Servon in researching the writing this book actually worked for several of these companies, she was able to learn first hand how and why people use these entities. I can see that bank could be a hindrance to accessing your money, if you live paycheck to paycheck. Basically the author says the check cashing and payday loan companies really serve the emerging middle class better that banks as they are very straight forward in the fees they charge, they offer immediate access to one’s money, they will lend money that people may not otherwise have access too.

The book is about is a quick read, well worth the time.

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall StreetBlack Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar
Format: Hardback
Published by Random House on February 7th 2017
Pages: 368

Goodreads

The story of billionaire trader Steven Cohen, the rise and fall of his hedge fund SAC Capital, and the largest insider trading investigation in history for readers of The Big Short, Den of Thieves, and Dark MoneySteven A. Cohen changed Wall Street. He and his fellow pioneers of the hedge fund industry didn t lay railroads, build factories, or invent new technologies. Rather, they made their billions through speculation, by placing bets in the market that turned out to be right more often than wrong and for this, they gained not only extreme personal wealth but formidable influence throughout society. Hedge funds now oversee more than $3 trillion in assets, and the competition between them is so fierce that traders will do whatever they can to get an edge. Cohen was one of the industry s biggest success stories, the person everyone else in the business wanted to be. Born into a middle-class family on Long Island, he longed from an early age to be a star on Wall Street. He mastered poker in high school, went off to Wharton, and in 1992 launched the hedge fund SAC Capital, which he built into a $15 billion empire, almost entirely on the basis of his wizardlike stock trading. He cultivated an air of mystery, reclusiveness, and excess, building a 35,000-square-foot mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, flying to work by helicopter, and amassing one of the largest private art collections in the world. On Wall Street, Cohen was revered as a genius: one of the greatest traders who ever lived. That image was shattered when SAC Capital became the target of a sprawling, seven-year investigation, led by a determined group of FBI agents, prosecutors, and SEC enforcement attorneys. Labeled by prosecutors as a magnet for market cheaters whose culture encouraged the relentless pursuit of edge and even black edge, which is inside information SAC Capital was ultimately indicted and pleaded guilty to charges of securities and wire fraud in connection with a vast insider trading scheme, even as Cohen himself was never charged. Black Edge offers a revelatory look at the gray zone in which so much of Wall Street functions. It s a riveting, true-life legal thriller that takes readers inside the government s pursuit of Cohen and his employees, and raises urgent and troubling questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of modern Wall Street. Advance praise for Black Edge A tour de force of groundbreaking reporting and brilliant storytelling, a revealing inside account of how the Feds track a high-profile target and, just as important, an unsettling portrayal of how Wall Street works today. Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times bestselling author of American Heiress Black Edge is not just a work of major importance, it is also addictively readable and horrifyingly compelling. Sheelah Kolhatkar pulls back the curtain on the cheating, corruption, and skulduggery that underlie large swaths of the hedge fund industry and some of Wall Street s most fabled fortunes. This book is as hard to put down as it is to stomach. Jane Mayer, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Money Fast-paced and filled with twists, Black Edge has the grip of a thriller. It is also an essential expose of our times a work that reveals the deep rot in our financial system. Everyone should read this book. David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z"

Ever since the financial crash of 2008, I have felt that Wall Street is no longer part of financial institution of the United States. It’s like Wall Street went rouge and serves only a few who consider themselves Masters of The Universe (Bondfire of the Vanities). Stephen Cohen, the star of this book, is one of those Masters of the universe having built a multi-billion dollar hedge fund using insider trading. I always tell my husband, if he or I committed any of the acts the Cohen and his cohorts did we would be locked up for life, the rich are different.

Sheelah Kolhatkar details how Cohen and other traders used inside trading to amass vast fortunes, how the government is all but helpless to stop it and how it probably still continues today. I was totally disgusted when I finished reading the book. I kept wondering how can people be this greedy, what drives them to act in this fashion.

Today when I hear that the stock market has reached record highs, it doesn’t increase my feeling of security about our economic future, it actually worries me. When Trump says he is going to roll back regulations, I worry more about this countries financial security. This book reads like a financial thriller the only different being if it were fictional the bad guys would not have won.