For the Love of Money
by Sam Polk

The vile excesses of Wall Street’s recent past are at least keeping memoirists in business. Here’s another – former hedge fund trader Sam Polk divulges the sordid intricacies of the increasingly familiar world of financiers, before and after the financial meltdown. A childhood spent in a family “constantly stressed about money” imbued in him a desperation for dollars. But when you read that Polk “traded bonds of companies in or near bankruptcy”, you can almost smell the putrefaction of a rotting financial system. Add his regular consumption of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, plus a past that included burglary and a couple of arrests, and the cliché of bad boy making money in the Manhattan cesspit is too Bret Easton Ellis obvious. Some credit goes to the once-puerile Polk for recognising that he had to change, having felt “devastated because [his] enormous bonus wasn’t bigger”. Yet on learning that his bonus, for one year, was US$3.6 million, should we still be praising an ex-predator with his warts-and-all-but-mainly-warts confession? Even if he does go on to become a recovering addict and founder of a “non-profit”.