Friday, October 16, 2015

Dean Jobb on the history of the Ponzi

The Literary Review of Canada this month reviews Dean Jobb's Empire of Deception, a title I've been meaning to get to.  It's a study of Leo Koretz, probably the most skillful and successful of Ponzi schemers -- taking enough from new rubes to pay the old rules just enough to keep them docile, while pocketing most of the real money.  Koretz operated in Chicago from 1908 to 1923, and probably got $20 million in an era when a million was real money.

Jobb is a Halifax writer, and the local angle is Koretz's flight to Liverpool, Nova Scotia, when the fraud collapsed. In Nova Scotia he passed himself off as an eccentric rich guy for a couple of years, but was exposed, jailed, and speedily died.  The LRC reviewer, an investigative journalist, notes that much of the mechanics of the Ponzi continue to be used on Wall Street and Bay Street, but are legal there.

Also notable in the October issue (and also not in the online selection of articles) is Pamela Palmater's review of Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-up Call by west coast aboriginal activist Arthur Manuel:
...Addressing this over-riding issue of aboriginal title is the only way to deal with the crisis of First Nations poverty. [Manuel] suggests that increasing government program funding or creating more jobs is still within the colonial dependency model, whereas recognition of aboriginal title means First Nations get to utilize their lands to support their nations economically -- just a federal and provincial governments do.

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