While conducting research for this article in Frankfurt, London and New York, SPIEGEL kept hearing the same phrase: "The party is over." The authors met with current and former investment bankers around the world and spoke with them about their sudden decline, their convictions and their self-image. They were told how the industry had become more and more powerful since the 1990s, and how it gradually disconnected itself from the rest of the world in the belief that it could use formulas and financial models to calculate away all risk.

After the scandals of the recent past, many insiders were shaken and introspective. But hardly anyone would admit to having made mistakes. Indeed, all of their actions were informed by the logic of a culture that has developed such perverse incentive systems that it will probably take more than a few years to regulate it back to health.

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