Financial Crisis a Joke at Secret Wall Street Party

Excerpt from Kevin Roose's 'Young Money' shows how the 1% gets down

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 18, 2014 2:01 PM CST

(Newser) – Having ruined the global economy, why not celebrate with a party featuring homophobic jokes and music acts in drag? That's what reporter Kevin Roose discovered when he sneaked into the 2012 annual black-tie induction ceremony of Kappa Beta Phi, a secret Wall Street fraternity that's been around since 1929. Big cheeses like billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, AIG CEO Bob Benmosche, and former Bear Stearns chair Alan "Ace" Greenberg took in the event's camaraderie and heavy drinking at New York's St. Regis Hotel ballroom. Among the lowlights:

  • A private-equity executive at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe told jokes like, Q: "What’s the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?" A: "Barney Frank comes in different-size buns."
  • Bill Mulrow, top Blackstone Group executive, donned tie-dye clothes to portray a "liberal radical" while a hedge fund manager berated him: "Bill, look at you! You’re pathetic, you liberal! You need a bath!"
  • Investment banking CEO Warren Stephens hit the stage draped in a Confederate flag and sang a financial-crisis song to the tune of "Dixie": "In Wall Street land we'll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man."

Writing about the party in his new book, Young Money (excerpted at the Daily Intelligencer), Roose describes how the Wall Street types eventually spotted him and shuttled him into the hall—where they promised to take his calls if he "could just keep their privacy in mind." Obviously, Roose didn't play ball. His take-away from the event? "The upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles." Click for the full excerpt, including juicy photos and audio from the party.

This April 21, 2006 file photo shows the statue of the bull, on Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan, New York.   (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
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Here was a group that included many of the executives whose firms had collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009. And they were laughing off the entire disaster, as if it were a long-forgotten lark. - Kevin Roose

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