Shadow BankingIf you’d like an informed woman’s view of Wall Street history and culture, but can’t stand to read all their blather, I urge you to visit Eva Chrysanthe’s website, Just click on the link to her site, listed to your left. I love all of her work for its serious economic fun.

My Life in Shadow Banking tells Eva’s personal New York encounter with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a bill established post-Great Depression to separate the contradictory aims of banking for protection and the stock market’s risk-taking. Mixing the two had led to the 1929 Crash and Glass-Steagall ended the temptation of a bank’s overselling certain worthless securities because of “compensation.”

That bill was skirted by the Federal Reserve under the leadership of Alan Greenspan, who had been a director for J.P. Morgan just before he got on board at the Fed in 1987.

Banking lobbies had failed at getting Congress to repeal Glass-Steagall, but after two years under our Uncle Alan, the Fed’s board narrowly decided to double the original limit on revenues banks could earn selling securities. Neatly done—and without pesky legislation. In 1990, J.P. Morgan became the first bank granted permission to underwrite securities, so long as it didn’t exceed 10% of revenues. Coincidence, huh?  The door was opened. The pigs came into the kitchen. You can see all their shit on Frontline, which names names, if you’ve the stomach for it.

But first go to Eva’s site for a mean laugh at our naivete and Clinton’s. Whether it’s Endless Desire, her brief history of luxury, or her sassy accounts of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, you’ll get some relief from economic dyspepsia. For instance, about Godfather Poppa Friedman and his era of “Greed is good,” (a view shared by Uncle Alan), she says:

Like the biblical fall of man in reverse, Milton Friedman allowed us to bid our shame goodbye because, as we learned from Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, the pursuit of our own wealth could be good for our fellow man. It was like finding out that french fries were “slenderizing.

Adam Smith, of course, is the most important demi-god of economics. He wrote The Wealth of Nations the same year the Declaration of Independence was signed by our founding fathers. But as Eva reminds us, he was no god, but a man who lived with his mother. She says few who quote him today have read his 620-page mind-numbing tome. Milton Friedman, Reagan and Bush’s economic advisor, who resuscitated Smith’s “invisible hand,” left a lot of his other parts dead and buried. His contemporaries thought he was dangerously liberal. Smith believed in government regulation.

Eva Chrysanthe is an accomplished artist and writer at work on a graphic novel whose working title is Adam Smith: An Economist Falls in Love with the Universe.