Panic in the Loop

Chicago's Banking Crisis of 1932

By (author) Raymond B. Vickers

Publication date:

24 October 2011

Length of book:

348 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739166406

Relying on a broad array of records used together for the first time, Panic in the Loop reveals widespread fraud and insider abuse by bankers—and the complicity of corrupt politicians—that caused the Chicago banking debacle of 1932. It provides a fresh interpretation of the role played by bankers who turned the nation’s financial crisis of the early 1930s into the decade-long Great Depression. It also calls for the abolition of secrecy that still permeates the bank regulatory system, which would have prevented the Enron fiasco and the financial meltdown of 2008. This book focuses on the recurrent failures of the financial system—the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, the Enron debacle of the early 2000s, and finally the financial collapse of 2008. Because of regulatory secrecy, knowing what happened in Chicago in 1932 is critical to understanding the glaring problems in the regulation of American finance, in particular the lack of transparency, the abuse of financial institutions by insiders, and the capture of public institutions by insiders going through the revolving door between the private and public sectors. Eight decades later little has changed. The regulatory failures of the 1930s—especially the pervasive system of secrecy that allowed the fraud and insider abuse to flourish—were repeated during the collapse of 2008. Transparency would strike at the alliance between the executives of financial institutions and public officials, who caused the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression.
In this book, Raymond Vickers, author of Panic in Paradise (1996), provides yet another masterful indictment of regulatory secrecy in the financial markets. Panic in the Loop highlights the pattern of 'crony banking' in the United States’ financial sector, this time examining the 1932 panic in Chicago. Vickers relates how a network of wealthy insiders in Illinois’s banking system—including state and federal regulators—enabled reckless, inappropriate, and illegal borrowing that eventually caused the failure of thirty-four Chicago banks during 1932.