The Rake

PROFITS OF DOOM

Source: Ivan Boesky taking two calls at once in his New York office, 1977.

Steve Cohen’s estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, 2013.

Since the financial crash of 2008, our fascination with the super-richest of the banking class — and their perceived crimes — has expanded like a trader’s algorithm. Fortunately, like the mobsters of The Sopranos or the advertising pioneers of Mad Men, they perfectly fit the male anti-hero model that has thrived in the prestige T.V. shows of the last two decades. The hedge-fund boys’ big moment is Billions, starring our previous issue’s cover star, Damian Lewis, as fund leader Bobby Axelrod, a man whose success is equal parts genius and criminality, and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades, the ambitious U.S. attorney who is determined to take him down.

With a former financial journalist, Andrew Ross Sorkin, as one of its creators, is strong on the insane details of hedge fund operations, from Axelrod’s depth of research (monitoring satellite imagery of deliveries from warehouses around the world to measure the true health of a company) to the office uniform (fleece jerkins, worn because the office is kept at the exact temperature deemed optimum for brain function). It also brilliantly exposes the obsession, the extravagant wealth and spending, and the desire to win at all costs, fair or foul, that characterises the

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