No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller
Harry Markopolos wrote a tragic thriller about the fraudulence of Bernard Madoff. In general, the book is about the fraud, and how the author has tried to investigate it for years, how he has attempted to get through to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but no one would listen.
Throughout the story, Markopolos and his team of the associates were figuring out how Madoff's secret hedge fund was working. Madoff was almost elusive. Harry Markopolos and his command of financial snoops describe how they have managed to break the so-called Madoff Ponzi scheme. For ten years they have been spying and investigating that financial fraud and, finally, have managed to reveal it and relished Madoff’s collapse.
Why is the book so valuable? Markopolos tells the true and factual story first-hand, from his personal experience. The author depicts Madoff investment scandal and how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission failed to react to his warnings. The book describes an exciting, breathtaking story about the chase of the greatest financial criminal in the history.
Of course, the main characters in the story are Harry Markopolos and Bernard Madoff. However, Harry’s team plays an important role in the process of the detection of the crime. Speaking about Markopolos’s investigation team, of course, it is important to notice that it helped him a lot. It consisted mainly of Frank Casey, Neil Chelo, and Michael Ocrant. I would characterize everyone in his team as the brave, persistent and intelligent men who always achieved their goals. Together with his friends and colleagues, Markopolos was chasing Madoff and investigating his actions.
Harry Markopolos worked in a firm that analyzed the investment products. He worked as a quantitative analyst. He was able to perform the complex operations. At the first sight, Markopolos is an ordinary man, not conspicuous, like everyone else. However, while reading the book, the reader understands that he stands out from the crowd. He is different in comparison with the others because of his intelligence, nous and quick wits. He always thinks outside the box. He is a real financial genius. His distinctive feature is his savvy.
Frank Casey was a marketer of the investment firm where Harry worked. He gave Harry the results of a secret, not officially recognized fund ran by the former head of NASDAQ named Bernard Madoff. It roughly summarized Madoff’s strategy. Frank gave Markopolos the task to work out the product that can be similar to the Madoff’s one, and can be a competitor with Madoff’s fund's returns. Harry calculated and realized that the number didn’t sum up. It was the beginning of his longterm but ineffective investigations. Neil Chelo was Harry’s colleague, a quantitative analyst and clever man as well.Later, Michael Ocrant, the MarHedge editor, joined the command and wrote an article regarding Madoff's returns.
Bernard Madoff appeared in the story as an icon of Wall Street. He is a symbol of the wealth and power as well as fraud and crime. He is the leader of the financial world. The people mistakenly considered him “a contributor” and “a sponsor.” But very few people knew that he was a cheat indeed. He was secretly working in a hedge-fund, a limited partnership of investors. He was a risky person. His methods were extremely hazardous and shady. He invested with the borrowed money, aiming to implement the great increase of the capital. That fund enlarged to the forty nations; tens of billions of dollars circulated in it.
Markopolos and his crew started unmasking the number of the funds channeling money into Madoff's care and management. What they didn't know until more and more of Madoff's victims came forward was that he was also accepting the funds directly from individuals. Almost $65 billion was involved, and perhaps as many as a million people around the world had suffered the significant losses, even the loss of everything they owned.
What is interesting, hundreds of other Wall Street players knew that Madoff was a crook. However, they did not give it out as their business dealt with the funds that pumped money into the Ponzi scheme. Another reason why they were silent was the fear. They did not wish to counteract and stand in the way of such a mighty Wall Street leader as Bernard Madoff.
The author depicts the Security and Exchange Commission (the SEC) as an ineffective, incompetent and stupid regulating agency that even “didn't give a rat's ass about protecting investors", as the author speaks.They consider Madoff "just another guy cutting some corners" (Markopolos 291). Despite the total and striking neglection, Markopolos refused to give up. He risked a lot;he jeopardized not only himself, but his family. But he did not go back. The reader can see him as a decisive man who goes ahead, regardless of the numerous obstacles. In the end, Markopolos appears before the Congress.
Throughout the story, the author confronts us with some questions. Why are he and his team alone in the attempts of puzzling out the scam? Why for so many years no one has tried to expose the fraud? And the most important question was why nobody has listened. For ten years, they desperately, but unsuccessfully have been warning the government, asking for their assistance. They have been trying to approach the Securities and Exchange Commission, different government agencies, and the financial press. However, all their attempts failed every time. The reason is trite. They refused to even consider that case. They did not investigate the greatest fraud in the history. That is why one more question emerges. If they even did not look at that case, how many other swindlers had they neglected? It would be better to say “protected” instead of “neglected,” as that word could describe what they were doing in fact. They covered the criminals, instead of performing their direct responsibilities: to defend the citizens. They were doing opposite of what they had to do. What is more important, all that mischief could have been prevented by only one call from the SEC. However, they did not wish to listen to one wise man. They should have inspected his business long before his failure, several billions of dollars before.
The book is full of disclosures that are astounding and surprising in a negative way. However, two rather small but demonstrative findings of the SEC shocked me. First of all, the SEC did not have the finances for the publications. The second thing was that the SEC did not buy its employees the business cards. Then again, the workers paid for them if they needed the cards (Markopolos 293).
Nobody could believe that such a scheme could have remained a secret for so long. No one in the staff was competent, and no one could help with the investigation. Ther reader can see many perturbations and anxiety of the author towards Medoff. However, to be honest, he shows his negative emotions and attitude towards the SEC. He frankly speaks and reveals the complete inability of the SEC to regulate the financial industry as well as protect the investors and honest financiers.
Especially demonstrative is the story about the suicide of a nobleman named Thierry, who invested a large amount of money in Madoff. There was not only the money of his family but also of many royal families in Europe. Markopolos informed and warned him many times, but the man could not just believe it. When Thierry realized what happened to the money, given to Madoff, he decided to finish his life. He was afraid and ashamed of having lost the people's money (Markopolos 107).
As for me, we must pay tribute to Harry Markopolos and his team. Their achievements are worthy of the public attention. They detected the massive financial lawbreaker. They opened the people’s eyes on how the regulators care about their financial safety. They prevented the people from making their investments that lead to the collapse.
Speaking of the moments that I liked or disliked in the story, of course, in general, it made a good impression on me. I enjoyed the scene in which Harry Markopolos vividly described his unforgettable feelings and the scene when he heard that all his investigations regarding the scam exposure and his fight against the fraud finished. This scene is my favorite one. It happened in the karate studio, where his twin boys had their lessons. His two friends contacted him and informed that Madoff had surrendered. Bernard Madoff gave up the struggle and admitted to a fifty billion dollars Ponzi scheme (Turner 32). It was such a type of the fraud based on the belief of the investors in the success of the imaginary company that did not exist. Madoff fed the investors with the unreal promises. At the moment when Harry heard about the end of the greatest fraud in the history, he felt the incredible relief. The thing of his life was over; he almost lost his consciousness (Markopolos 298).
Regarding the negative side, the book is a controversial piece of work. Why is it contradictory? Some people think that the author's language is boring and uncertain. Somebody argues that he sounds like a high school geek. It is a piece of journalism. Markopolos is not a professional writer himself, and the reader may feel it. He is not politically correct in his book, and he frankly admits it. However, this outstanding book is an example of how good democracy can work.
As for me, Markopolos is an interesting writer. He is communicative, clever, and witty-minded. As a man, he is brave; he is a real math geek, quant. He struggled for eight years trying to warn investors and the SEC of Madoff's schemes, only to meet disinterest and disfunction. First-handed, he depicts a great event. If the agencies had listened to Markopolos, if the SEC had listened to Markopolos in 2000, the government would have saved forty-three billion dollars.
I would also recommend reading the document about Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme that Harry Markopolos submitted to the SEC in November 2005 (Turner 27). It is very informative and gives the detailed and deep look to what is going on in the financial world. Comparing this piece of work with the book No One Would Listen, I can say that, of course, I prefer the book. It is impressive and reading it can be exciting, as it is full of adventures and interesting happenings, not only the facts. No One Would Listen, as well as Markopolos’s 2005 submission to the SEC, again and again firmly assured me that I would never put my money in a hedge fund.
To sum up, No One Would Listen is a book that anybody concerned about the corruption in Wall Street and the federal regulatory agencies should read. I can recommend the book to every person who has an interest or involvement in the financial sphere. The story is a gripper. Harry Markopolos brings the reader to the thrilling world of the financial machinations and their detection. Of course, it will be interesting not only for the financial experts but for many people who wishes to delve deeper into the unfair world of the financial scams. It can be exciting for every citizen to see how the justice works.