- File Size: 4373 KB
- Print Length: 416 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0008377170
- Publisher: Custom House (February 18, 2020)
- Publication Date: February 18, 2020
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07NLFHHJ3
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,680 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction Kindle Edition
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"Enrich compellingly shows how unchecked ambition twisted a pillar of German finance into a reckless casino where amorality and criminality thrived." (New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice))
“Riveting. … A cracking read. … Devastatingly accurate. … This is an important book because it reveals how one bank, with questionable business practices to put it mildly, made it possible for Trump to bounce back from multiple bankruptcies, cast himself as a business visionary, and eventually run for president and win.” (Sunday Times (London))
“A jaw-dropping financial thriller.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Enrich delivers a master class in financial sleuthing. ... A first-rate read." (The Guardian)
"A revelatory book about the rise and fall of the world’s biggest bank. … Has all the elements of a page-turning mystery novel" (Washington Post)
“Exposes chaos and corruption at the bank that holds Trump's secrets.” (NPR.org)
“In this case, ‘epic’ is right - Dark Towers is a mystery, a thriller, a father-son drama. Did I mention Donald Trump? It’s a distinctly American drama of greed, hubris and power that kept me racing to the finish.” (James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of Den of Thieves and Deep State)
"In this masterful account of a bank gone bad, David Enrich turns financial journalism into gripping, page-turning crime reporting. Tracking the sordid history of Deutsche Bank―from financing robber barons, Nazis, and rogue states to laundering Russian money to underwriting Donald Trump to threatening global economic security ― Enrich deftly delivers a compelling narrative that intertwines harrowing institutional corruption and engaging personal tales. It’s a wild ride and a great read." (David Corn, co-author, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump)
“A deep-reaching look at the inner workings of Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump's lender of choice.” (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
David Enrich is the Finance Editor at the New York Times. He previously was the Financial Enterprise Editor of the Wall Street Journal, heading a team of investigative reporters. Before that, he was the Journal’s European Banking Editor, based in London, and a Journal reporter in New York. He has won numerous journalism awards, including the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award for feature writing. His first book, The Spider Network: How a Math Genius and Gang of Scheming Bankers Pulled Off On of The Greatest Scams in History was short-listed for the Financial Times Best Book of the Year award. Enrich grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, and graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two sons.
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But it would be a mistake to view this book as merely the Broeksmit/Trump story. The bank’s Nazi past is displayed here for all. The insane hiring missteps that management made in their pursuit of trading profits, the abetting of money laundering, contempt for regulators, etc. The pressures that drove DB’s management existed for virtually all financial institutions, and DB won’t have been the only that succumbed, but they did so with particular venality and one can’t help but root for their downfall, and be delighted with the bank’s recent near-collapse.
Enrich’s research goes deep, and he writes well, finding incidents from deep in the corporate archives that provide amusing or ominous foreshadowing to recent developments.
But despite Enrich’s amazing work here, there are questions he can not answer. Regulators could, if they wanted to, pry through to evidence about wrongdoing that is hinted at in this book but not proven. The book suggests that there’s much more about Trump to be found in the bank’s records than we yet know, and it’s frustrating. Eventually I hope we’ll get these records and Enrich will give us a v2 of this book with addenda on the dirt he couldn’t share here.
Russian oligarchs mix with shady characters from all over the world in money laundering that other banks wouldn’t touch. Why would Deutsche Bank make specious loans? Who was behind the bank’s business decisions and how do people like a US Supreme Court Justice figure into American politics? David Enright’s book is a great read which exposes the dirty side of Deutsche Bank and its dealing.
The story is gripping. It is quite the page-turner, a remarkable accomplishment for a book about fraud in the financial services industry, a subject that typically would induce yawns. The text proceeds at a rollicking pace, and it certainly is not a boring tale. It reads more like a novel than a dry work of non-fiction. The writing is clear and accessible, and free of jargon. When financial terms cannot be avoided, their meanings are explained well. The characters of the book are well fleshed out; they are presented as whole, flawed characters rather than simple silhouettes.
The parts of the book involving Donald Trump are almost like interludes: they add to the overall story the author wishes to tell, but they do not fit well into the flow of the master narrative about Deutsche Bank. The reader is left to wonder whether the chapters or incidents involving Trump were added only to make the book more topical, and more interesting to the 2020 audience. Nevertheless, the book shows how well Trump and Deutsche Bank were suited for each other, both parties skirting unlawful activity if not boldly crossing the line to outright fraudulent or criminal behavior.
This book is very highly recommended, notwithstanding some of the quibbles noted above. This reviewer usually reserves five stars for books that are likely to stand the test of time, books that are likely to be read ten, twenty years from now. This likely is such a book due to its richness in telling a story about a corporation riddled with corruption. This reviewer can well imagine this book being used in business ethics courses for years to come.
Top international reviews
The only thing I think the book misses - almost completely, in fact - is the external environment that gave the risk-takers the leeway to take risk in the first place. Though Edson was great, he was also at least a bit lucky in terms of his timing: he joined Deutsche Bank in 1995 and bulked up its Investment Banking group just as European bonds were surging (particularly the formerly so-called high-yielders like Italy and Spain) in the run-up to EMU, and with the benefit of a huge regulatory tailwind in the form of the Basel Capital Accord that allowed the bank to own the highest rated governments bonds with no literally money down (aka the zero risk-weight for OECD government bonds). Then, by the time European government bonds converged post-EMU, short-term interest rates were down to zero courtesy of the US Federal Reserve, and that was the next tonic that facilitated excessive risk-taking. In short, by the early 2000s, the bank could borrow at virtually zero interest rates in almost unlimited quantities.
Little wonder the balance sheet ballooned the way it did, really. Yes, there could and should have been stronger checks and balances to stop the excesses at Deutsche Bank. Traders ruled OK for too long, and things ultimately fell apart. But it was Central Bankers and regulators who were the source of the free money and virtually unrestrained balance sheets that the traders put to use. We praise the Central Bankers for putting out the fires in 2009 by doing "whatever it takes" to save the financial system, but we almost completely overlook their mis-steps laying the foundations for the prior boom.
Anyway, I digress. Because, most importantly, I never had the chance to write what follows anywhere else about Charlie, Bill & Edson (each of whom I knew and worked with, and with condolences to all the loved ones they left behind): Rest in Peace.
Otherwise it is, as other reviewers describe, a very well written, informed and entertaining story of how a plain domestic, commercial bank found itself in deep waters and dark currents. Don't expect anything massively new and revelatory about #45 though. I guess the lawyers have hacked this tome.
There were other lines of business, of course, notably including last gasp financing for a New York property developer no other bank would touch in view of his bad habit of not repaying his debts and repeatedly putting his businesses, including casinos, into bankruptcy, one Donald J. Trump.
Using the journalistic device of personalizing the account of intricate financial dealings and improprieties, the authors focus on a relatively honest banker among the coven, who ultimately committed suicide, leaving his devastated son to try to piece the story together. What emerges is a story of appallingly corrupt behaviour even by the dismal standards of the banking system going into the 2007 economic crisis. It is a grim story of the complete triumph of unbridled greed and wilful blindness by those who would not see.
A subplot is, of course, the inexplicable willingness of Deutsche Bank to bail out, time after time, the fraudster who became President of the United States. The money trail explains a lot: Deutsche Bank was willing to loan hundreds of millions of dollars to him against all the rules of competent commercial banking for the blindingly simple reason that their bets, and losses, were covered by the Russian "bank" VTB, with close ties to the Russian mafia and the Putin regime. Followers of this sordid tale who are hoping soon to see the President's financial records exposed may have to settle with this illuminating account for the foreseeable future. It explains why Trump is prepared to do anything, including shredding past conventions and the rule of law, to keep his nefarious schemes private for as long as he can.
Recommended for any serious observer of the American political scene.
All the pieces of the testosterone loaded corruption of aggressive, crooked bankers from D. Bank and others come together in David's book of commendable investigative journalism.
The Russian money-laundering, amoral corporate culture, Donald Trump - all players in this saga of excess - are well known, but the fall out and tragedy of the string of tragic suicides is largely forgotten.
Arrogance and hubris unchained.