Media Appearances


Louis Uchitelle, The New York Times:

“A well-documented appeal to embrace once again Thomas Jefferson’s skepticism of concentrated banking power.”

Alan Beattie, Financial Times:

“The authors’ main thrust is very well made: the burden of proof is on financial institutions to show that what they do is socially and economically worthwhile, not on governments and regulators to prove that it is not.”

Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post:

“I’m told that lots of copies of 13 Bankers are making their way around Capitol Hill. Even Chris Dodd told Don Imus that he is reading it. This could be the rare book than can actually have an impact on the vital debate happening right now in Washington.”

Jonathan Kirshner, Boston Review:

“The best book of a fine bunch. . . . a brilliant, important, and extremely unsettling work.”

David Weidner, Wall Street Journal:

“Mr. Johnson offers an enticing vision of a Wall Street confined, its potency limited to put-downs and head-shaking: a Wall Street where right-sized banking is a do-gooder word for a safer, saner system that has learned from its mistakes.”

James Pressley, Bloomberg:

“Though Jamie Dimon won’t like this (any more than John D. Rockefeller did), incremental regulatory changes and populist rhetoric about “banksters” are getting us nowhere. It’s time for practical solutions. This might be a place to start.”

Jonathan Ford, Prospect Magazine:

“It’s been take, take, take by the bankers—without them giving anything much in return.”

Stephen Metcalf, Slate’s Culture Gabfest:

“It’s slow in the very best sense of that word. It’s a terrific book, highly recommended.”

Katie Benner, Fortune:

“This staid looking text holds an explosive idea: Wall Street has hijacked our government. And without a total overhaul, taxpayers will endlessly foot the bill for its sins.”

Tom Abate, The San Francisco Chronicle:

“An angry but well-documented survey of how nearly 30 years of deregulation under both Republicans and Democrats has created a few gigantic and, the authors say, uncontrollable financial institutions.”

Jeffrey Garten, The Daily Beast:

“When Congress and the administration fight it out, 13 Bankers will be a must-read. And come the next crash, it will be so again.”

Christopher Caldwell, The Weekly Standard:

“No book on the meltdown will make you angrier than 13 Bankers.”

Ian Kumekawa, Perspective Magazine:

13 Bankers is the kind of book that should incite readers to action.”

Larry Doyle, Sense on Cents:

“”Simon Johnson and James Kwak have provided a national service in properly framing the debate that is central to our nation’s future. As our economic crisis plays out, Johnson and Kwak highlight that financial regulatory reform is not a question of sufficiency but of increased transparency and integrity in exposing the incestuous Wall Street-Washington relationship which has crippled our nation . . . and will do so again unless fully addressed. A must read!!”

David Zaring, The Conglomerate:

“This book differs from many from the financial crisis in that it actually offers a prescription and has a theory about what happened.”

David Merkel, The Aleph Blog:

“Simon Johnson and James Kwak . . . have written a  very credible book on the crisis, which I have.  It covers all of the bases in a methodical way, and there was little with which I could find fault, and it does so without conspiracy-mongering, or name-calling, while still finding fault with a great many parties.”

Devilstower, Daily Kos:

“Reading [13 Bankers] shouldn’t just be a wakeup call, but a call to arms.

Hardy Green, DailyFinance:

“The authors’ dense but compelling 13 Bankers is a cri de coeur to break up the ‘oligarchy’ that the authors say now dictates economic policy in the U.S.”

Arnold Kling, EconLog:

“One of the most valuable contributions to the literature on the financial crisis.”

Mike Konczal, Rortybomb:

“These two books [along with ECONned, by Yves Smith] will mark a pivot of the narratives of the crash to a more sophisticated understanding of where we have come from and the real issues of how we govern ourselves and what kind of economy do we want to build. Both are highly recommended.”

Michael Corkery, WSJ Deal Journal:

“Simon Johnson and James Kwak argue that the only way to truly prevent another financial crisis is for Congress and the White House to reduce the size of the nation’s largest financial institutions such as JP Morgan and Bank of America.”

Ravi Nagarajan, Seeking Alpha:

“Free market advocates (which firmly include the author of this article) need to realize that our current system is not a true “free market” because institutions that are too big to fail enjoy upside benefits while downside risks are socialized through taxpayer bailouts.”

Kirkus Reviews (subscription required, but full review available on Barnes & Noble):

“A detailed, dismaying and damning summation of recent Wall Street-Washington collusion — and the recurrent risk of financial folly.”

Publishers Weekly

“Though this blistering book identifies many causes of the recent financial crisis, from housing policy to minimum capital requirements for banks, the authors lay ultimate blame on a dominant deregulatory ideology and Wall Street’s corresponding political influence.”

Brad DeLong, University of California, Berkeley:

A “really good thing to read.”

Alex Callinicos, letter to the Financial Times

“[Simon Johnson and James Kwak] demonstrate how determined lobbying by the banks made use of laisser-faire ideology to win for themselves the elbow room to engage in more and more risky speculation (elbow room that they have largely successfully defended against recent attempts to impose greater regulation).”

Adrien Auclert, laviedesidé

“[U]n essai engagé et une analyse informée et rigoureuse des liens incestueux entre la finance et la politique.”

Media Appearances

All Things Considered, March 26

Morning Joe, March 30

The Leonard Lopate Show, March 30

Stephen Colbert, March 30

The Real Story,, March 31

Yahoo! Finance, March 31: parts one, two, and three

The Diane Rehm Show, April 1

Simon at MIT, April 2 (article and video from MIT News)

ThoughtCast, recorded April 2

Firedoglake Book Salon, April 4, April 6

Book-TV, C-SPAN, April 6 (World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C. event)

Sense on Cents, No Quarter Radio, April 11

Radio Open Source, April 14

Bill Moyers Journal, April 16

The Breakdown, The Nation, April 23

CBS MoneyWatch, May 6


“Simon Johnson makes it clear that our financial system is broken, and that Wall Street and Washington broke it. Sadly, he also makes it clear that they want to keep it that way. His gripping book explains how the economic crisis developed and what must be done to create a fair system, one that will benefit all Americans rather than just those who are the members of the club.”

Herbert A. Allen III, President of Allen & Company

“The U.S. financial sector is incredibly bloated and a drain on the productive economy. It uses its enormous economic power to buy politicians and policies that favor its interests and perpetuate its power. This is the main argument of Simon Johnson’s new book. The views expressed are especially striking because Johnson is the former chief economist at the IMF. He has had decades of experience dealing with financial crises. This often required working with corrupt governments dominated by powerful financial interests. It is striking to see Johnson putting the U.S. government in this category.”

Dean Baker, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the
Center for Economic and Policy Research

“Johnson and Kwak embed the financial crisis in a sophisticated analysis of U.S. economic history, explain its evolution with unusual clarity and propose policy reforms to prevent its ever happening again that are both straightforward and compelling.”

C. Fred Bergsten, Director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics

13 Bankers is surely the only book about the financial crisis of 2007-09 that begins with a quote from The Great Gatsby. But the analogy is appropriate. Johnson and Kwak not only tell us in great detail how the crisis happened and what we must do to avoid another crisis, but they see the deeper political and cultural context that permitted carelessness and excess nearly to break the financial system and plunge us into a depression.”

Bill Bradley, Former U.S. Senator (D-NJ) and Member of the Basketball Hall of Fame

13 Bankers is a chilling tale of the dangers of concentrated economic, intellectual, and political power.  Even if you do not agree with everything the authors have to say, this book makes it clear why ending ‘too big to fail’ and reforming the institutions that perpetuate it–particularly the Federal Reserve–are essential for our nation’s future economic prosperity and, more fundamentally, our democratic system.”

Jim Bunning, U.S. Senator (R-KY) and Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

“This book is remarkable in its scope and conclusions.  It places changes in financial services and the sector’s regulation over the last 20 years in the context of the last 200, and the comparison isn’t favorable.  It’s the one book the President (and the Congress) should read in 2010.”

George David, Chairman, United Technologies Corporation

“Too many discussions of the Great Recession present it as a purely economic phenomenon–the result of excessive leverage or errors of monetary policy or algorithms run mad. Simon Johnson was the first to point out that this was and is a crisis of political economy. His and James Kwak’s analysis of the unholy inter-twining of Washington and Wall Street–a cross between the gilded age and a banana republic–is essential reading.”

Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University,
Professor at Harvard Business School, and Author of The Ascent of Money

“This is a timely, informative and important book. You may not agree with all the analysis but the issues so clearly discussed are real, current and vitally important. Financial industry reform must be undertaken soon; inaction, as the authors convincingly argue, would have dangerous consequences. This book explains it all and it’s great reading.”

Larry Fish, Former Chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group

“What Simon Johnson is telling us is that we are subjecting ourselves to rule by a self-perpetuating banking oligarchy. Which leaves two questions: Are we listening? And if we are, then what are we going to do about it?”

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL)

13 Bankers is a tour de force.  For those many Americans who believe they have never received an adequate explanation about why the United States economy crashed in 2008, who is to blame, where their tax dollars went, and why the villains have thrived while everyone else has suffered, read this book or be prepared for history to repeat itself soon.”

Michael Greenberger, Law School Professor at the University of Maryland
and Former Director of the CFTC Division of Trading and Markets

“Prescient and powerful, 13 Bankers provides a battle plan for the fight to ensure that America’s ‘too big to fail’ megabanks will no longer be able to hold the global economy hostage while accumulating record profits, doling out obscene bonuses, and spending millions of dollars on lobbying to gut financial reform.  Johnson and Kwak demonstrate that what is good for Wall Street is decidedly not good for Main Street, and present a bracing, and at times frightening, analysis of how Big Finance has undermined our political system.  Most importantly, they offer specific proposals for turning things around.  Our future depends on fixing our financial system; 13 Bankers shows us how.”

Arianna Huffington

13 Bankers is an absolutely brilliant and spellbinding forensic analysis of Main Street’s economic murder at the hands of financial behemoths who gambled recklessly with the taxpayers’ chips while paying Washington to look the other way.  From Jefferson and Jackson to South Korea and Russia, the book traverses time and space in documenting that banks that are ‘too big to fail’ are far too big to preserve.  The message is clear–bust the financial trusts and do it now!”

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Professor of Economics at
Boston University and Author of Jimmy Stewart Is Dead

“A beautifully written and powerful story that ties the current financial crisis to a cycle of politics as old as the Republic, and to a pathology in our politics that is as profound as any that our Republic has faced. We are far away from solving that crisis, and hopelessly far from even understanding how we could cure this pathology. Required reading for the President, and anyone else who cares for this Republic.”

Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Director of the
Edmond J. Safra Foundation for Ethics at Harvard University

13 Bankers explains our financial crisis in the context of the recent experience of other nations and our own history. Our financial crisis fits a tediously familiar pattern of unrestrained, vulgar excess followed by collapse. We should heed the lesson that Simon Johnson and James Kwak draw: the continued concentration of economic and political power makes future economic crises inevitable and undermines democracy.”

Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC)

“If the wads of money you’ve stuffed into your mattress for safekeeping don’t keep you up at night, Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s 13 Bankers will–a disturbing and painstakingly researched account of how the banks wrenched control of government and society out of our hands–and what we can do to seize it back.”

Bill Moyers

“As Simon Johnson makes lucidly and compellingly clear, the problem with Wall Street leads directly to the core problem of our democracy. American politics now feeds on money, and Wall Street is where the money is. Unless we separate money from politics, we’ll never be safe from another financial meltdown. In fact, we’ll never really be safe. Read this fine book and get to work.”

Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the
University of California at Berkeley and Former U.S. Secretary of Labor

“Over the last 50 years, the FAA, the airline manufacturers, and the airlines worked together to make a highly complex air travel system more efficient and much safer. If you’ve ever wondered why, in contrast, our financial regulators and banks made our financial system less efficient and much more dangerous, you should read this book.”

Paul Romer, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center for International Development
and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

13 Bankers is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what comes next for the world economy.  Dangerous and reckless elements of our financial sector have become too powerful and must be reined in.  If this problem is not addressed–using the ideas in this book or similar reasonable and sensible steps–there is serious trouble in all our futures.”

Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business
and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics

“Johnson and Kwak deftly survey the roots and aftermath of the financial panic of 2007-2009, daring to ask whether institutions deemed ‘too big to fail’ are merely a symptom of a Wall Street that is ‘too well-connected to fail.’ Now, as policymakers, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Will we perpetuate this phenomenon or will we finally stand up to the barons of high finance? According to the authors, it is not too late to redraw the lines of regulation to protect taxpayers, investors, borrowers, and ultimately the financial system from itself. We in Congress would be wise to take their advice.”

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)

“Simon Johnson and James Kwak provide the best explanation yet for how the smart guys on Wall Street led us to the brink of collapse.  In the process, they demystify our financial system, stripping it down to expose the ruthless power grab that lies at its center.  If you want to understand how Wall Street captured Washington and how it tenaciously hangs on to that power, read 13 Bankers.”

Elizabeth Warren, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and
Chairwoman of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel

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