Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 216

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One prominent theme in Den of Thieves is moral relativism. Both the bankers and the investigators at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have unique public and private moral justifications for their actions, and therefore, they have unique opinions of what their careers should empower them to do. Many of the Wall Street employees engage in "financial alchemy," believing that they are entitled to use their creativity by any means necessary in the American enterprise of making cash. In doing so, they ignore the law.

Another theme is the instability of criminal networks. As soon as bending the laws becomes the de facto way of life in Wall Street, everyone is implicated, whether they know it or not. The business world, where power stems from personal connections, does not mesh well with the criminal world, where people who "succeed" commit their crimes alone and in secrecy. Stewart illuminates an additional way that financial executives get off scot-free from financial crimes: by using their connections and money to lobby for laws that simply legalize their questionable money-making schemes. One example is Siegel's invention of the "golden parachute," which awards huge sums of cash to executives upon dismissal. This was made legal by framing it as a rational and innocent strategy for preventing huge chains of corporate mergers.

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