When FBI agents raided the offices of three hedge funds on Monday, the reacton on Wall Street recalled the famous scene in Casablanca where Claude Rain's Capt. Renault character is "shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here."
To Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibi, author of Griftopia, there's nothing shocking at all about revelations of possible widespread insider trading on Wall Street. (See Massive Insider Trading Probe Could Nab Wall Street's Biggest Names)
"Everybody is trading on the inside somehow or another, so this isn't particularly surprising," Taibbi says. "A lot of sources I talked to suggested this is endemic to the entire culture."
The current investigations center around alleged insider trading prior to merger announcements such as MedImmune's takeover by AstraZeneca in 2007 and Merck's buyout of Schering-Plough in 2009, The WSJ reports.
While gaming takeovers is a "classic" form of insider trading, Taibbi says it's also evident in high-frequency trading, where exchanges provide a millisecond sneak peak at buy and sell orders, or the practice of clients front-running big orders by institutions.
"The real issue here is that it's everywhere," he says. "And the fear is there's no end to it."
Taibbi, who became widely known in financial circles in 2009 when he dubbed Goldman Sachs "a vampire squid on the face of humanity," says he is not cynical by nature. "But this Wall Street stuff is overwhelming," he says. "The more you look into it, the less you see the way out. The government seems so completely helpless to do anything positive in this situation."