After the 2008 financial crisis, advocates of regulation often observed that banking needed to be made boring again. The footprint of finance in American and world society, it was widely realized, had expanded dramatically, relying on exotic innovations and yielding incredible profits. With disastrous effects, bankers now appeared as swashbuckling adventurers rather than the gray, dull figures they once had been.

Organized labor was caught up in this transformation in important ways, as Sanford M. Jacoby demonstrates in Labor in the Age of Finance: Pensions, Politics, and Corporations from Deindustrialization to Dodd-Frank. Jacoby, an eminent historian of business and industrial relations, argues that, with the rest of society, labor took a “financial turn” (1). “For much of the twentieth century, the worlds of finance and labor spun in separate orbits,” he writes. “They drew nearer as the century came to a close and a new one began” (8).


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