When Taibbi began covering the U.S. finance industry, he was “continually struck” by how much it resembled the corrupt dynamic in the former Soviet Union.
Question: How did your work in Moscow help you uncover hypocrisy in America?
Matt Taibbi: One of the reasons I was so attracted to this Wall Street story was when I first started looking at it in the summer of 2008, I was continually struck by how much it reminded me of a lot of the dynamic that I had seen covering the Russian government and the Russian state where there was this oligarchical system that they had over there. There were a very tiny collection of super-connected industrial figures, these oligarchs. They were bankers mostly. And there was this circular process of government gives tons of money to banker; banker then scams the public and returns money to politicians who in turn keep giving money back to the bankers. And that whole circular process is very similar to what is going on here in the States now where we have a small group of very, very politically connected banks who give massive campaign contributions to both parties and they’re rewarded with selective regulation and bailouts and then the money comes back again. I think if I hadn’t seen that in the more crude form that you see in Russia where—stuff is just right out in the open in Russia sometimes; they don’t even really hide it—if I hadn’t seen that it would have been harder for me to see this story.
Recorded on November 22, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd