I can testify to the allure of Wall Street. During the 1990s, I was based in Washington DC and covering the American economy for the Financial Times. There was no sense in trying to write about the US economy without paying close attention to Wall Street investment banks, so, like other economics correspondents, I often took the shuttle to New York. I would exchange gossip – and occasionally hard data – with economists and analysts at institutions such as J P Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch.
After such encounters, I always came away with a strong sense of Wall Street’s unique role in American life. Here was an indubitable centre of power, a place where people’s opinions mattered. Yet it seemed to have little in common with either the political world of Washington DC or the