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Diana Henriques

  • Wizard of Lies
  • Black Monday financial author and journalist

As an award-winning financial journalist covering Wall Street for The New York Times  for 25 years and author of A First-Class Catastrophe: The Road to Black Monday, the Worst Day in Wall Street History, Diana Henriques has an in-depth understanding of our nation's financial landscape and it's historic formation. Whether digging deep to expose scandal or explaining the tenuous dynamics of Wall Street, both past and present, she is renowned for her intelligent analysis and unique insight.

Diana is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, that has been made into a HBO movie starring Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer (and Diana as herself) and has become the definitive truth on what really happened within this catastrophic scandal. She wrote The Wizard of Lies based on her lead reporting on the Madoff scandal, as well as the interviews she conducted with him in prison.

In 2021, Diana will release her highly-anticipated book, Taming the Street: The Old Guard, The New Deal, and the Fight for the Soul of the American Market where she delves into the 1920's wild financial frontier of an unregulated Wall Street and tells the epic story of the unprecedented fight to save the soul of American capitalism. She shares lessons learned and offers foresight and hope gleaned from a time when our economy collapsed, yet rose again.

It is a smart companion to A First-Class Catastrophe, where she outlines the financial mistakes and misdeeds that caused Black Monday and brings those harrowing days to life while excavating their overlooked, but still relevant, warnings for today's economy.

Over her intrepid career as an investigative journalist for the New York Times covering Wall Street, Diana has uncovered some of the greatest scandals of U.S. financial history. In 2005, she became a Pulitzer finalist for a series of articles exposing how insurance and investment companies financially exploited young soldiers. She became a Pulitzer finalist again for her coverage of the 2008 financial crisis.

Thoughtful, witty, and yet straightforward, Diana engages audiences with her extensive knowledge and perspectives. She shares crucial lessons from her legacy of reporting—from the 2008 crisis to her study of the 1987 stock market crash to today's volatility and reveals the pitfalls and promise of the U.S. economy. She offers insight into how Wall Street can improve its ability to recognize the symptoms of cracks in the market to avoid tragedy in the future.

Her speaking topics include

  1. The Limits of Trust: The Bernie Madoff scandal in 2008 cast new light on an age-old challenge for investors, financial professionals, and regulators. Too often, our psychological and procedural defenses are set up to detect threats from the outside—burglars, hackers, corporate espionage attacks, fraudulent robo-callers, strangers in our midst. But how do we defend ourselves from the trusted criminal—the admired and respected high-achiever who wins our trust, and then betrays us? A better understanding of how Madoff's fraud worked can inform a smarter approach to this hazard for all investors and for everyone trying to keep investors safe from such predators.
  2. The “Black Monday” Market of Today: The 1987 stock market crash, still the worst single day in Wall Street history, exposed the extraordinary changes that permanently reshaped the financial landscape in the early 1980s. These were a) the birth of financial derivatives in Chicago, b) the burgeoning size and herd-like instincts of pension funds and other new arrivals in the equity and derivative markets, c) the escalating use of high-speed computers to both deliver market orders and design market strategies, and d) the growing fragmentation of the formal market regulatory machinery. But despite the near-death experiences of Black Monday, when the Dow fell a paralyzing 22.6 percent in one day, little was learned and little was done to address those new elements of risk—as subsequent crises, including the 2008 meltdown, have shown. As a result, we are just as vulnerable today to the dangers we faced in 1987.
  3. The Criminal With a Thousand Faces: Ponzi schemes, which exploit our deeply human (and profoundly essential!) instinct to trust one another, are a perennial threat to investors. One data website estimates that, since 2002, a new Ponzi scheme has surfaced every five days! A review of the colorful history of this crime shows that much of what we think we know about Ponzi schemes is obsolete in the post-Madoff era. Diana cuts through the swashbuckling fables and movie-plot cultural baggage that surrounds these con men, and provide some practical ways to deter the Ponzi schemers in our midst.
  4. Why Financial History Matters: Even among fans of popular history, far too little attention is paid to the financial side of history. And yet there is no way to fully understand our political history without “following the money.” And “the money” was in the marketplace! As an amateur financial historian, she introduces general audiences to the colorful characters, hair-raising adventures, and eternal relevance of America's financial history. In doing so, she makes the case for making it a bigger part of our national conversation. This draws on research for all her books, including “Fidelity's World,” a history of the American mutual fund industry, and “The White Sharks of Wall Street,” an account of the “original corporate raiders” of the 1950s.

Keywords: Wall Street, financial bubble, investigate financial journalist, stock market, global economy, future trends

Book Diana Henriques