Dan asked:

Does this book make anybody else think Capitalism is f*cked up?

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Cybertraveller Capitalism is a probably the wrong word. We are talking financial manipulations and the extent of them. Michael has a talent, he writes so well that everybody can understand this difficult subject. And yes, it is a shame, a disgrace. To all those that think that this adds to market efficiency I can only say: Bullshit! If these firms only make money 5 years straight, someone must be losing right. Guess who? All the others are. So this is just another clever way of cheating as long as it does not put them in jail, at least, not yet.
Nicki Brøchner It isn’t Capitalism that is f*cked but Wall Street.
Wdmoor This isn't capitalism, this is theft. The NYSE replaced the failing specialist system and replaced them with HFT's, all at the investors expense. It's outrageous.
Hannah I agree with Nicki to an extent. It's the US version of capitalism that's ****ed up. So many Americans have been brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda ("less government is always better" — IIRC, the more widely used word for this ideology in the States is "libertarian"), which has always been unusually powerful in the USA, into equating socialism with Communism (which, in turn, wasn't originally quite as ****ed up as it became when Stalin took over the USSR) and accepting the claim that any government regulation of business is bad for the economy.
Actually, what's bad for the economy (and a lot of other things) is letting Wall Street become the modern equivalent of gambling addicts, and then having a government that's as bad at managing money as the type of people who were getting subprime mortgages in the mid-2000's pay them all the money they lost. A system where investment banks do pretty much whatever they want (either unregulated or with minimal regulations that usually go unenforced), and government rescues them when they go bankrupt, on the grounds that the economy depends on them too much ("too big to fail" is a popular expression for this concept in America) is just plain not going to work. If the economy depends on the banks that much, the government should take them over since it is clear that they can't be trusted with the responsibility for the economy themselves. So instead of just giving them cash and letting them do the same thing again, the government should be buying them out: if it thinks they're worth saving, it should save them from themselves!

Also, the financial markets should have a purpose that works for the economy, not against it. When you invest (whether you're a big bank or an individual), you should be investing in something real and productive. Some of the financial derivatives that have grown so popular lately

So anyhow, it's not just that Wall Street is ****ed up: it's that the system is ****ed up, although Wall Street is a major contributor to said ****edupness.

Capitalism works far better when it's tempered with some socialism, also known as a mixed economy. This is the standard way that most countries in Western Europe operate (although as with all things, some are better at it than others). Germany is a good example of a country that has been successful at combining the two.

"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried." —Winston Churchill
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