Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: No One Would Listen (2010) by Harry Markopolos.

What would morally outrage you more: a person robbing a bank or a security guard (who was tipped off) slumbering through it?

As one flows from nefarious intent and the other from incompetence or inertia, one would typically argue for the bank robber.

But author Harry Markopolos is not typical. Just ask him. He seems to relish being "wildly eccentric". (p. 251.)

Perhaps reflecting this eccentricity, Markopolos' book reserves most of its moral outrage for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), instead of the man it failed to stop: Bernie Madoff, despite Markopolos' repeated warnings.

Nobody Would Listen chronicles Markopolos' somewhat quixotic campaign to stop Madoff's ponzi scheme, years before it collapsed in 2008 (through no effort of the SEC). Anyone believing in federal government regulation of financial markets will have his or her faith stripped to agnosticism or atheism after reading this sad and sobering tale. That's not to say that the book doesn't have its funny moments too--the breathtaking audacity of Madoff as well as the SEC can sometimes only be read as comedic.

Despite a healthy dollop of needless lawyer-bashing (e.g, "Most lawyers couldn't recognize a Ponzi scheme if they were having dinner with Charles Ponzi." [268]), the book is a fascinating instruction manual of how not to deal with a "whistleblower" if you are a government official tasked with supervising capital markets.

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