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Upton Sinclair: The Moneychangers

Upton Sinclair: The Moneychangers

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In "The Moneychanger," Upton Sinclair tells the fictionalized story of the Wall Street panic of 1907. The panic, according to Sinclair, was orchestrated by several very powerful capitalists in order to dethrone a rival trust company. First published in 1908, "The Moneychangers" is the story of a small band of Wall Street players who plot to outmaneuver their rivals via financial schemes that sound all too familiar in today's chaotic economic environment: shell companies and creative accounting lure unwitting investors to prop up secretly bankrupt corporations, prompting a stock market crash, a bank run, and a dramatic rise in unemployment. The story is told through the eyes of Allan Montague -- a successful lawyer living in New York. Through the course of the story he becomes introduced to several power players -- many of whom have millions riding in the stock market. These players use fronts and shill companies whose only purpose is to sell things -- they do not make anything. This gets the public and the government to invest in their companies which ultimately go bankrupt. Upton Sinclair won a Pulitzer Prize for his notorious 1906 novel "The Jungle," a fictionalized account of the barbaric conditions of the men and women who worked in Chicago's meatpacking industry. The details exposed in "The Moneychangers" are just as horrific as those in "The Jungle." As with "The Jungle," "The Money-changers" is based on real events and is startlingly relevant today, as the very crimes Sinclair strove to highlight plague society once again.