November 08, 2023 | Book
  • Headline: Busting the Bankers' Club
  • Intro Text:

    PERI researcher Gerald Epstein’s book Busting the Bankers’ Club: Finance for the Rest of Us uncovers the deep roots of Wall Street’s political and economic power. The book describes how, due to the long-term erosion of regulatory policies, current U.S. financial practices promote instability and crises and produce destructive impacts on workers and communities. Epstein also examines in depth the “Club Busters.” These are the political activists, organizations, financial regulators, legal scholars, economists, and policymakers who are fighting the destructive power of finance and aiming to build a financial system that serves the rest of us.

  • Type of publication: Book
  • Research or In The Media: Research
  • Research Area: Finance, Jobs & Macroeconomics
  • Publication Date: 2023-11-08
  • Authors:
    • Add Authors: Gerald Epstein
  • Show in Front Page Modules: Yes
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January 2024
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epsteinbookcover2023Bankers brought the global economic system to its knees in 2007 and nearly did the same in 2020. Both times, the U.S. government bailed out the banks and left them in control. How can we end this cycle of trillion-dollar bailouts and make finance work for the rest of us? Busting the Bankers' Club confronts the powerful people and institutions that benefit from our broken financial system—and the struggle to create an alternative.

Drawing from decades of research on the history, economics, and politics of banking, economist Gerald Epstein shows that any meaningful reform will require breaking up this club of politicians, economists, lawyers, and CEOs who sustain the status quo.

Thankfully, there are thousands of activists, experts, and public officials who are working to do just that. Clear-eyed and hopeful, Busting the Bankers' Club centers the individuals and groups fighting for a financial system that will better serve the needs of the marginalized and support important transitions to a greener, fairer economy.



"Gerald Epstein has done something that has needed doing since 2008 -- he has written a book that explains our complex, captured financial system to the lay reader. In simple, clear prose, he outlines why we are still fighting financial fires, and what we can do to bridge the Wall Street-Main Street divide. A wonderful way to understand how finance became the tail that wags the dog of our economy. " Rana Foroohar, Associate Editor, Financial Times

"In this incisive chronicle, Epstein (The Political Economy of Central Banking), an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, surveys how deregulating banking turned the financial institutions into engines of inequality and liabilities to the economy. . . . Epstein’s skill in describing financial matters plainly is a boon. Epstein convinces with this potent plan for ending the era of 'too big to fail.'” Publishers Weekly

"A cleareyed view of the financial system’s woes, all addressable if only the political and economic will is there."—Kirkus Reviews

"Clear-eyed and hopeful, Busting the Bankers' Club centers the individuals and groups fighting for a financial system that will better serve the needs of the marginalized and support important transitions to a greener, fairer economy. . . . [the book] is an extraordinary and timely study that will have immense value to readers with an interest in the relationship of banks, the U.S. economy, and the methods used by the banking industry to influence governmental policy makers. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented."—Midwest Book Review
"Exposes the banking cartel that has hijacked U.S. democracy."—Wall Street On Parade

"[P]eppered with colorful metaphors and anecdotes, Busting the Bankers’ Club is a practical and valuable resource for campaigners, journalists, policymakers, and anyone interested in the mechanics of Wall Street’s influence on key institutions of American democracy."—Public Seminar

"Most people in the United States old enough to seek a job and a credit card probably already vaguely understand the system as rigged against them. Epstein gracefully and readably explains who did the recent version of that rigging and how it works."—Organize North Carolina

"Explains how various industry leaders and lawyers sustain the power of the finance industry through multiple channels and techniques of influence."—Journal of Economic Literature"This is an eye-opening, must-read blockbuster of a book showing how banks' money and power corrupts Washington and our financial system. Compellingly and insightfully connecting the dots, Gerald Epstein details how the bankers' club is also a literal club, beating down opposition and hardworking Americans, and concludes with a visionary plan for how the system can be changed to benefit all Americans."—Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets

"Busting the Bankers' Club reminds us that the United States has still not fixed the weaknesses in its banking system to prevent financial meltdowns. Epstein exposes why the fault lines are still there and what we can do to prepare for the next disaster when no amount of regulation is sufficient."—Jennifer Taub, author of Big Dirty Money and host of the podcast Booked Up with Jen Taub

"An essential guide to all that's gone so deeply wrong in the US financial sector. 'Roaring finance' has destroyed the economy and upended the lives of working people (and too often distorted the priorities of those who represent them). A 'bankers' club' now threatens democracy by amplifying the power of Wall Street. Epstein offers a concrete road map for bold yet achievable strategies to reclaim finance for the social good."—Ilene Grabel, author of When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence

"Busting the Bankers’ Club is a revealing look behind the curtain of the banking industry’s various crises and failures. Instead of focusing on the policies or practices that lead to such disparate economic outcomes in our economy, Epstein hones in on the network of people, from bankers to lobbyists to academic economists, who tightly control the credit and capital structure that rightfully belongs to the people. Epstein’s account correctly identifies an often-overlooked source of unfairness and also points the way forward through a more democratic and just banking system run for and on behalf of the people. This book is a must-read for students of finance and activists alike, written by a foremost scholar in the field. The book is timely, necessary, and enlightening."
—Mehrsa Baradaran, Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine Law School

"Gerald Epstein's Busting the Bankers' Club is an indispensable guide to how the financial elite made banking a self-serving and unstable cartel, and how to turn banking back into the servant of the real economy rather than the master."—Robert Kuttner, coeditor of The American Prospect and Professor at The Heller School, Brandeis University

 "Read this book before the bankers get it banned. In lucid and accessible prose, Epstein tells us what’s wrong with the bankers’ club and what should be done to bust it apart and build finance that works for the rest of us."—Fred Block, Research Professor of Sociology, University of California, Davis

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