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The Madoff paradox: American Jewish sage, savior, and thief

Berkowitz, M; (2012) The Madoff paradox: American Jewish sage, savior, and thief. Journal of American Studies , 46 (1) 189 - 202. 10.1017/S002187511001423. Green open access

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Abstract

Bernie Madoff perpetrated a Ponzi scheme on a scale that was gargantuan even compared with the outrageously destructive Enron and Worldcom debacles. A major aspect of the Madoff story is his rise as a specifically American Jewish type, who self-consciously exploited stereotypes to inspire trust and confidence in his counsel. Styling himself as a benefactor and protector of Jews as individuals and institutional Jewish interests, and possibly in the guise of the Jewish historical trope of shtadlan (intercessor), he was willing to threaten the well-being of all those enmeshed in his empire. The license granted to Madoff stemmed in part from the extent to which he appeared to diverge from earlier Jewish financial titans, such as Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, in that he epitomized an absolute “insider” – as opposed to an “outsider” or marginal figure. In reality he had none of the supposedly humane virtues attributed to Jewish crooks, at least in the realm of popular culture.

Type: Article
Title: The Madoff paradox: American Jewish sage, savior, and thief
Location: UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S002187511001423
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021875811001423
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012 Cambridge University Press
Keywords: Madoff, Bernard, Madoff scandal
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/620828
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