NYT reporter speaks to Seidman students

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New York Times reporter and columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin spoke to a group of Seidman students and faculty members at the University Club, Oct. 12, during his visit to West Michigan.

Sorkin, 33, talked about his best-selling book, Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System and Themselves. He told students he spent more than 500 hours interviewing 200 people to see what really happened.

“It is easy to place blame or make judgments until you actually get on the floor,” said Sorkin. “Your field of vision changes and you get a different view of the players. Things aren’t so black and white, but gray.”

Sorkin said his book is really about the fallibility of people and that he now has a new respect for what really took place in 2008. He told the group the whole system is driven by greed from the bottom to the top, “and we’re the top.”

Sorkin added that he is saddened by the lack of responsibility by banks, but believes they are in a better place today.

“I’m not worried about the banking system anymore,” he said. “What I worry about today is the same problems that happened with the banks are now happening with states and countries. The whole system is based on trust. The next crisis will come when others start to say, ‘I don’t trust you anymore,’ or think you can’t make good on your promises.”

A student asked Sorkin what business schools can do to prepare young professionals who want to work on Wall Street. “I have to answer that with a question,” said Sorkin. “‘Can you teach values?’ ‘Can you teach morals?’ I’m afraid that’s something you’re either instilled with or not.”

Sorkin’s visit was sponsored by the World Affairs Council and Seidman College of Business.