Media, pop culture, news, trends, photos, rants + things we like.
Subscribe to Newsweek on the web.
Before the collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008, Brad Katsuyama could tell himself that he bore no responsibility for that system. He worked for the Royal Bank of Canada, for a start.
RBC might have been the fifth-biggest bank in North America, by some measures, but it was on nobody’s mental map of Wall Street. It was stable and relatively virtuous and soon to be known for having resisted the temptation to make bad subprime loans to Americans or peddle them to ignorant investors.
But its management didn’t understand just what an afterthought the bank was — on the rare occasions American financiers thought about it at all.
Katsuyama’s bosses sent him to New York from Toronto in 2002, when he was 23, as part of a “big push” for the bank to become a player on Wall Street.
The sad truth was that hardly anyone noticed it. “The people in Canada are always saying, ‘We’re paying too much for people in the United States,’ ” Katsuyama says. “What they don’t realize is that the reason you have to pay them too much is that no one wants to work for RBC. RBC is a nobody.”
Michael Lewis, an author who has written extensively about the financial crisis, interviewed himself and asked of the Occupy Wall Street relationship with the media, “Why do writers think it’s okay to be all talk and no action?”
Here’s his answer:
Okay, I’ll tell you what happened. Twice I wandered around Occupy camps—in Washington and in San Francisco. There was one giddy moment when I thought I should get up and give a rousing speech about the evils of credit default swaps. After that, I just felt absurd. I was of no use.