Wolfe isn’t the only novelist to capture the pulse of finance. With Bombardiers, Po Bronson stole fire from Joseph Heller, Thom Jones, sat in a closet–yes, he did, with REM’s It’s the End of the World playing on repeat–and emerged with a hypnopompic literary style, thundering with wraparound dolby sound effects. I assure you there is wisdom in this. It captures spirit of the last week better than any article I read in all 2000 pages of the New York Times. Listen to this one sentence alone:
It was a filthy profession, but the money was addicting, and one addiction led to another, and they were all going to hell.
Or perhaps more prophetically:
When the sun didn’t come up and instead their tower was socked in by clouds and fog, the other world existed even less than usual; they could not see the streets below, or most of the shorter buildings, and they were one of the few spaceships in the sky. The next attack could come from anywhere. The economic forecasts were useless. The fundamentals were ignored. The Federal Reserve was unpredictable. Money supply meant nothing in a global market. The Yanks followed the lead of the Japs, and the Japs followed the Krauts, and the Krauts followed the Yanks. They waited for instructions from the top, but their standing instructions were to sell first and not wait for instructions. Nobody knew where the market was going, but those that knew less than others lost their shirts and had their eyes ripped out and were made to swallow. In the mornings, there was always a chance to make it back. Later, the government would bail them out.
That was written in 1995. Attorney Generalissimo Cuomo wasn’t even at HUD yet.