But in Roose's defense, his original project was not to find heroes. His intent was to ask how the 2008 crash had affected the culture of Wall Street. So what changed? The answer: not much. The Occupy Wall Street movement did grab headlines for several months, and going into finance became less attractive to young Ivy League students soon afterwards. But arguably the culture of Wall Street has changed little. The recent publication Michael Lewis's book Flash Boys, a polarizing work on the practice of "high frequency trading," shows what's been true for years: If finance can figure out a way to make a quick dollar, they will alter the universe to do so. It's no surprise, then, that ethical giants are tough to find.
A Moral Outcry
Of course, there is an upside. The book is a resounding moral outcry. (As fair warning to readers, Young Money is peppered with coarse language, sexual references, drug use, and even more worrisome, greed.) And the twisted state of finance should lead Christians, secularists, and everybody in between to ask better questions: What would real rhythms of work and rest look like for Wall Street? Where are the good examples of firms that actually embrace the good purpose of finance, which is to provide capital for businesses to grow? What are reasonable limits on salaries for investment bankers? Where are the finance models that are both profitable and committed to investing in good businesses that serve communities with good products and services?
It can be easy to read Young Money and sit on a moral perch, condemning a godless, money-obsessed industry. But, of course, this does no good, either for young analysts like Jeremy or for capital markets. At a time when more Ivy League graduates are leaving Wall Street, perhaps it's time for more Christians to head straight into finance and help patch up the torn vocational fabric of the world's most powerful sector.
Jeff Haanen is the executive director of Denver Institute for Faith & Work.