Hi guys! I'm Kevin Roose. I write for New York Magazine and nymag.com, and my new book, "Young Money," just hit the New York Times bestseller list. It's about the lives and times of 8 young Wall Street bankers I followed around for three years, and the way the crash of 2008 changed the financial industry for young people. (I was also on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, which was both extremely fun and really bad for my blood pressure.)

Here's a link to the NYMag excerpt in which I crashed the annual dinner of Kappa Beta Phi, a secret Wall Street society, and saw CEOs dressed in drag and behaving badly: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/i-crashed-a-wall-street-secret-society.html

And here are some reviews of the book, along with links where you can order your very own copy: http://www.youngmoneybook.com

Proof! https://twitter.com/kevinroose/status/439449034437447680

Edit: That was really fun! Thanks guys. And if you still have more questions, I'm always available on Twitter at @kevinroose.

Comments: 167 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

fmanjoo47 karma

Do you have any regrets about Digg or Pownce?

kevinroose18 karma

So many. So, so many.

EloquentMumbling6 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose24 karma

No, it's a serious question. He's asking me about my regrets about Digg and Pownce. Of which I have many.

EloquentMumbling5 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose12 karma

OK. (I just named them, in my head.)

corin6twelve31 karma

Your book The Unlikely Disciple was about young Evangelicals. In your interviews on the talk shows (Morning Joe, Jon Stewart) you liken the culture of Wall Street to a religion. Have you found a common thread amongst your young Wall Street friends and your Liberty University friends?

kevinroose33 karma

Oh yay an actual question! Yes, I do think that on some level, my young banker friends are like my Liberty friends. Of course, their cultures are miles apart, but they're both being put through this kind of theological test. On Wall Street, you're basically taught to blend in – dress the right way, talk the right way, look up to the same charismatic leaders as everyone else. Same at Christian college.

But what might be more interesting, and a parallel I didn't suspect, is that both communities have apostates. There are a ton of people on Wall Street, I suspect, who don't really buy the whole finance ethos – who are going through the motions, but don't have their hearts in it. Several of the eight people I followed fall into this camp, so there have to be lots more.

corin6twelve19 karma

On The Daily Show you were privy to the coveted post-interview lean-in. It happens on all the great talk shows with people like Bono or Jennifer Hudson. After he shakes your hand, the music starts and the camera zooms out, Jon Stewart leans in and tells you some secret information that only celebrities know. Everyone's dying to know...what do they say during the lean-in?

kevinroose28 karma

I was too freaked out and nervous to remember exactly, but we'd had a conversation during the interview about his days as a bartender, and when he leaned in he told me some story from his bartending days about Wall Street customers that I'm sure would have been crude and and hilarious if I'd been sentient at the time.

Lepreshawn13 karma

Hey Kevin, loved the article. Awesome stuff man.

Were you/are you scared of raking the muck when it comes to corporate bigwigs like that. Those people have their hands in everything and money talks in this town (NYC as well), was there ever a point where you thought "Oh shit, they could end me".

kevinroose19 karma

Thanks! You know, there was a moment after the Kappa Beta Phi dinner where I was scared that I might get pulled into a panel van or hit by a drone strike or something. These are millionaires and billionaires! I remember calling my mom and telling her I loved her, just in case.

But no, I haven't felt bodily threat since then. Although I'm probably blackballed from the St. Regis.

broncobluster9 karma

How often do you get confused for Kevin Rose?

kevinroose24 karma

All the effing time. I get invited to all these cool tech parties and then I RSVP and they're like, oh, sorry, the party's been...moved?

insomniabard9 karma

How did the bankers you talked to react to the Occupy Wall Street protests? What were some of their personal opinions on it?

kevinroose35 karma

That was a fascinating thing. Some of them dismissed the protests. But more than a few were really shaken by them. I remember one Goldman guy saying, "It feels so weird to be on this side of things." You have to remember that there were 22- and 23-year-old bankers. They had friends in the Occupy movement. And they weren't so far removed from the real world that they couldn't feel guilt for taking part in such a vilified industry.

pidgwillot8 karma

Now that you're out in the bay area covering tech as well, what are some of the differences you've noticed between young tech workers and young wall streeters?

kevinroose14 karma

Well, I think the groups are blending somewhat. But Silicon Valley is a much more earnest, idealistic subculture. There's a greed there, but it's buried beneath ten or twelve layers of do-gooder rhetoric.

Wall Streeters, on the other hand, tend to be more forthright about what their job is (making money). And the young ones tend to be a little more morally conflicted, in my experience, because they don't have that pillow of saving the world to rest their heads on at night.

omg____lol8 karma

would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or get a full body massage from mike isaac

kevinroose7 karma

What is a "Mike Isaac?" The horses sound fine, though.

weehermione6 karma

Considering your Unlikely Disciple work and now Young Money, what misunderstood sometimes terrible but ultimately human group will you sneak into next?

kevinroose38 karma

Redditors, def.

british426 karma

Just wondering, are you still friends with any of the students you befriended at Liberty and what did they think of Unlikely Disciple? Also, looking forward to reading your new book!

kevinroose13 karma

I am still friends with some of them! They were all very supportive of the book, and a lot of them still write from time to time to say hi and keep me updated on their lives. (They all have a lot of children by now.)

cssblondie5 karma

where did you get that hot new suit kevin

cssblondie3 karma

god you look hot in it

talryn9 karma

Nice try, Kevin.

kevinroose5 karma

I hate you Mike. Also Banana Republic I think? It's not very fancy.

Lepreshawn5 karma

Also, what kind of effects have you seen since posting the article a week or two ago? Have any of the people mentioned in it caught any slack in a big way?

kevinroose13 karma

One guy was forced to apologize, since he's a trustee of a university. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/trustee-s-jokes-put-ur-in-awkward-spot/article_8b01c47c-99ae-11e3-8a2c-001a4bcf6878.html

But the others are pretty much fine, at least that I know of. They're not exactly vulnerable.

talryn4 karma

Unlikely Disciples was one of the more patient, understanding books I've ever read. With that background, I was surprised, in reading your NYMag piece on the KBP party, to find that the hatchet came out so quickly. Not that this exonerates them completely, but these were very unpopular folks at the time; isn't there a version of the story, and of the jokes you covered, that gets into collective effervescence as collective therapy? Are they more than monsters?

kevinroose8 karma

I think the Kappa party is a little unrepresentative of my book as a whole. (Which, in some ways, makes it a weird excerpt! Not that I'm complaining.) Because the book is, I think, really humanizing – if you come in believing nothing about bankers except that they're evil and greedy, I think and hope that the 8 portraits of young bankers will flesh that out a bit, and put some faces to the stereotypes.

noahchestnut4 karma

What new book better captures New York? Adam Sternbergh's Shovel Ready or your Young Money?

kevinroose5 karma

His book is really good! You should read it! Mine too! Both of them perfectly capture New York, and are available at amazon dot com.

sapharti3 karma

As an incoming analyst for a Wall St. bank, I loved reading your book. Seems like you spent a lot of time meeting your sources in bars/clubs that are popular with analysts - did you ever worry about them running into someone they knew, or even one of your other sources?

kevinroose4 karma

Thanks! And good luck! When it came to meeting sources for interviews, we would usually pick places pretty far from their offices, just for safety's sake. The Brother Jimmy's trips were mostly for fun. ("Fun.")

Hank-R-Hill3 karma

Buy low, sell high?

kevinroose20 karma

Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel.

swevc3 karma

Did you get the sense that any of the young recruits you followed were at the top of their class? If not were these the individuals that were going to get washed out of Wall St anyhow?

kevinroose7 karma

A few of them were, if not at the top of their class, then near it. One guy, a Goldman Sachs worker, was told by his boss that he was one of the best analysts they'd ever had.

I think a few of the others may have been culled when it came to promotion time. But I found basically no correlation between where someone was in his/her analyst class and how happy he/she was. The misery extended to all levels of competence.

hero0fwar3 karma

Oh wow, I read that initially as Kevin Rose (guy from Digg), was thinking oh god, what is he doing here?

kevinroose17 karma

THIS HAPPENS A LOT

iampurplesummer3 karma

Do you think if you were to shadow 8 individuals in another field/industry, it'd be as revealing as Young Money turned out to be?

I don't think there's a greater disconnect between how the world views Wall Street and how it actually operates.

Loved your appearance on the Daily Show last night! Your book is phenomenal.

kevinroose8 karma

I don't think there are many industries that are as secretive as Wall Street. So I'm not sure there'd be as much to reveal if I shadowed, say, insurance salesmen.

But maybe! Who knows, State Farm agents could be CRAZY.

JustaGangsta2 karma

How did you convince eight young bankers to give you that much access?

kevinroose11 karma

Quaaludes.

kevinroose5 karma

Actually, it was just a matter of building up trust, telling them I was going to keep them completely anonymous, and convincing them that I wasn't going to make them look like complete assholes – that I was genuinely curious about what their lives were like.

GrabMyButtStick2 karma

How many times have you been compared to Michael Lewis or been referred to as a new/young Michael Lewis in the past month? And what do you think of the comparison?

kevinroose2 karma

It's happened a couple of times, but honestly (and this is going to sound faux-modest no matter how I say it, but it's true) it's like comparing an Olympic gold medalist to some guy in rec league. Michael Lewis is a god, and probably the best non-fiction writer of his generation. I love him and will read everything he ever writes.

GrabMyButtStick1 karma

Also, don't the both of you live in Berkeley?

kevinroose3 karma

We do! We had lunch once. He's a very nice man.

lonewolfandpub2 karma

Hey dude, haven't checked out the new book yet, but I really liked Unlikely Disciple, and dug your NY Mag article. Keep up the great work!

What's the strangest fact you've uncovered in your research for Young Money?

kevinroose5 karma

It's not really a strange fact, but I learned a fascinating amount about how young bankers try to game Seamless (the lunch-ordering thing). There's a great article on Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/1822449/how-wall-street-bankers-use-seamless-feast-on%C2%A0free-lobster-steak-and-beer) that goes into detail about how bankers use their Seamless allowances to get beer, cigarettes, and groceries for their apartments. These guys are the best and the brightest!

frosted_moose2 karma

How old are you, exactly? You look anywhere between 15 and 45.

kevinroose10 karma

45! I've never gotten 45. That is...depressing.

I'm 26.

TheCrankyHermit2 karma

Hi Kevin --- Why was there such a delay between going to the event and publishing the article (2012 to 2014)?

kevinroose5 karma

There wasn't! I published an article in the NYT the day after the event: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/raucous-hazing-at-a-wall-st-fraternity/

rwhoward2 karma

Do you think the changes you see in Wall Street and finance are sustainable or will the Wall Street of the future revert back to parts of the pre-crash era?

As an adrift mid-twenty year old, it was refreshing to see other twenty year olds -- even those that make $200k -- hold similar worries. Do you still keep up with any of the people you wrote about?

kevinroose2 karma

I think parts of Old Wall Street might revert (the size of the bonuses, for example). But I don't think the culture will ever go back to the Liar's Poker-era days. It's a vastly different, vastly more boring financial industry than it was back in the 1980s, or even in 2006.

I do keep up with the people I wrote about. They're great.

leontes2 karma

How much would your silence cost?

kevinroose5 karma

A $25 Starbucks gift card would probably do it, to be honest.

JuliaDub2 karma

What action, if any, do you hope Young Money spurs? For example, changes on Wall St.or caution against similar practices in Silicon Valley. Or is this just a really great peek inside?

kevinroose5 karma

My goal was never to, like, influence Wall Street regulation. It's a good story, I hope, and to the extent it has an impact, I hope it gives college students some more information before signing up to work at a big bank about what it's actually going to be like.

michaelynch2 karma

Hey Kevin. First, I just wanted to say that I'm about half way through Young Money and it's been very insightful. I look forward to finishing it.

Here's my question. You comment on the lack of moral compass many of these Wall St. bankers have, not being able to see "the big picture." Could you describe your own moral compass? How was it developed?

kevinroose8 karma

Hi Michael. I don't know what my moral compass is. I do know that my parents are wonderful human beings, and so whatever moral scruples I may have inadvertently picked up are from them.

caseyparsons2 karma

Who is your favorite barbershop quartet?

kevinroose2 karma

Yours, Casey.

yeahiamayuppie2 karma

Hey Kevin --

I just finished your book a few days ago! Thanks for a great read.

You had made the point early in the book that in many ways these investment jobs are very risk-averse for young college grads because of the early hiring schedule. I was particularly interested by your insight that Teach for America really got a foot-hold in major universities when they moved up their timeline to match the early recruitment schedule of the banks.

I'm in law school right now and the similarities are striking - law firms recruit on an incredibly early timeline, often before students' 2L years whereas public interest jobs may not hire until late in the 3L year or after students have taken the bar. Risk averse lawyers want to have a job locked down so default to law firms. The risk adversity is compounded by the pressure of student loans.

Your anecdote about Teach for America strikes me as a really crucial insight about how to get millennials into the workplace after college or graduate school. Maybe we should be thinking about moving up all sorts of hiring timelines, and reproducing the 1-2 year "up or out" models in lots of industries. This would allow there to be designated spots that could let even non-profit industries hire early. Besides Teach for America were you seeing any other industries / groups try this early-recruitment model on college campuses? Do you think it would be sustainable?

My other question is whether you saw student loan debt playing a role for any of the young financiers you followed. Was it part of their calculus in taking the job? Was it part of their calculus in staying? Do you think that many young grads who go into banking have high debt loads, or did most have supportive families / substantial financial aid packages?

Again, thanks!

kevinroose2 karma

I think you're right that the Wall Street recruiting structure (early offers, 2-year commitments) is a big part of why it's attracted so many people for so long. And why TFA has been so successful by duplicating it.

The problem is that most companies can't anticipate their hiring needs 9+ months in advance. And they're usually not big enough to be able to just hire, say, 100 people, and then figure out where to put them later.

As far as the student loan debt, absolutely. One of the 8 bankers I followed was a young woman who graduated with $100,000 in student loans, and part of why she came to Wall Street was to pay those down as quickly as possible.

burgundyoink2 karma

I was at a bookstore with my friend as he purchased your book. We discovered somebody has dog-eared one of the pages. He decided to wait until he gets to that page to find out why they did that.

Any bets on what to expect?

kevinroose3 karma

Oh my god I have no idea. Where was the bookstore?

burgundyoink1 karma

Downtown Toronto

kevinroose5 karma

Did I malign Canadians in the book? flips through index Hmm...I don't think so, maybe it was just damaged in transit?

burgundyoink1 karma

Alright but if there's some sort of ancient prophecy and/or slight against Canucks on that page, I'll be holding you personally responsible.

kevinroose11 karma

Well I do hate Canadians, but I didn't put it in the book.

gingerelle1 karma

Would you theoretically be up for speaking at a 3-day lifestyle design/adventure retreat in the wilderness of Utah?

kevinroose1 karma

Uh, sure? E-mail me.

culture_beat1 karma

Hi Kevin, thanks so much for being here.

I'd love it if you could talk a little bit about your writing process--i.e. how you made the time while you had a full-time job; what was easy about it, and what was challenging. Do you actually like the act of long-form writing (some writers find it meditative; others find it excruciating)?

kevinroose5 karma

I always tell people that writing is terrible, but having written is great.

It's a bit of an exaggeration – I actually don't mind the actual act of writing sometimes. But it can also be a drag. When I was doing the book and holding down a full-time job, I would basically work a normal workday, take a one-hour nap, go for a run, and then go back to my desk and write all night. It wasn't the most pleasant existence. I basically didn't see my friends for 6 months. And I grew a pretty gross beard.

cinnamonstick241 karma

How do you handle all the fame Kevin?

kevinroose5 karma

I put it all in a knapsack and carry it over my shoulder.

MitchelGoosen1 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose2 karma

I wrote about it the day after it happened! http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/raucous-hazing-at-a-wall-st-fraternity/

That story didn't get as much attention, in part because it was shorter and less detailed, and didn't have the audio and photo elements that the later excerpt did.

madeformarch1 karma

I saw you on Colbert the other night, definitely going to pick up your book for when I have time to read something other than textbooks.

kevinroose6 karma

That's weird. I wasn't on Colbert! (Colbert: call me?)

RonSauce11 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose3 karma

Is that a Kevin Rose joke?

edupreneur1 karma

How mindful are young Wall Streeters that, ex subsidies and legalized fraud (e.g., front-running via HFT), their companies generate no profits? (If memory serves, Bloomberg News performed this calculation.)

edupreneur1 karma

From a March 12, 2013 article by banking analyst Chris Whalen:

By my conservative reckoning, the subsidies for the zombie banks total more than $3 annually for every dollar in income reported by the industry in profit. The industry reported $35 billion in profits in Q4 2012, so we’ll call annual income about $150 billion annually. Let’s start with the broadest subsidies that affect all banks and work our way up the food chain to those subsidies that only impact the TBTF zombie queens.

kevinroose4 karma

Matt Levine debunked that $83 billion subsidy thing a while back: http://dealbreaker.com/2013/02/why-should-taxpayers-give-big-banks-a-subsidy-of-83-billion-per-year-or-any-other-made-up-number-for-that-matter/

But I agree on a larger level that there are some serious structural problems with Wall Street. I asked the eight young bankers about various aspects of this, and their answers came in basically two flavors. Either they a) understood and appreciated the problems, and had some misgivings about the state of the financial industry, or b) they were too busy making Excel spreadsheets and pitch books to care. All their brain space was full of the minute details of their grunt work, with no time or energy for big-picture reflection.

Atlantabraves1 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose1 karma

Well, they weren't angry, because I had their full participation from the start. They knew it was coming.

I hope they like it! One of them said to me that reading it gave him PTSD – that reliving his analyst days was really, really, painful, now that he's gotten to a better place.

jklap1 karma

What's it like to meet Rembert?

kevinroose3 karma

I love Rembert. He needs better clothes, though.

maxpbeaumont1 karma

[deleted]

kevinroose7 karma

I regret my sk8r boi phase.

chenimal1 karma

What does it take to get you to follow me on Twitter?

kevinroose6 karma

What's your username? I'll do it right now!

Da_Car1 karma

Pancakes or Waffles?

kevinroose3 karma

Pancakes duh

happyhourgirl181 karma

Was there any attempt or thought to follow analysts from boutique banks? As a former boutique banking analyst, I think we lead a different life than those from bulge bracket analysts.

kevinroose2 karma

I wanted to stick to the big banks. Mostly because there are more analysts at those firms, and so the experiences those analysts have are more common by definition. But if I'd found the right boutique banking analyst to follow around, I would have definitely given it thought. I think those people tend to be a little more committed to finance as a career, though, and therefore a little more wary around reporters. (At least in my experience.)