For two centuries, Wall Street has symbolized American capitalism; since the early 20th century, it has been a financial symbol for the entire world. Wall Street's development has been a story of technological change, business ingenuity and economic growth. Wall Street's most important functions are investment banking and security trading; for much of its history, trading and speculation have bee a free and vigorous game of every man for himself. Since the 1930s, however, governments have paid an increasingly important role in shaping Wall Street, and the later 20th century has seen increasing global pressures as well. "Wall Street's Mystery Men" reviews some of the most colorful and fascinating personalities from the past two centuries: J.P. Morgan, one of the greatest Wall Street titans, dominated the banking industry, organized American's railroad and steel industries, and even bailed out the U.S. Treasury in 1895. Jay Gould was as famous as Morgan, but much more notorious; he tore down other empires to amass his own fortune. Hetty Green, Wall Street's first female financier, parlayed a $6 million inheritance into a $100 million fortune, and feared assassination the entire time. Diamond Jim Brady was an emblem of the 1890s, whose activities showed a fascinating blend of shrewdness and luck. Jesse Livermore lived flamboyantly before meeting his ruin and tragic death.Bernard Baruch made a fortune in the Market, then moved on to politics and became a presidential advisor. Joseph Kennedy speculated his way to a $500 million fortune; he later headed the new Securities and Exchange Commission and fathered a U.S. President.
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