The Week’s Best Business Longreads: Business Beast’s Picks for Jan. 5, 2013

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg, via Getty

What’s Inside America’s Banks? Frank Partnoy and Jessie Eisinger, The Atlantic

A law professor and journalist go spelunking in the annual report of one of America’s most successful, conservative banks. What do they find? It’s nearly impossible to tell what risks banks have buried in their balance sheets.

The Volcker Way 
Austan Goolsbee, Foreign Affairs

The former Obama administration chief economist writes that the legendary Federal Reserve chair is “one of the last remaining heroes of modern finance.”

Basel Becomes Babel as Conflicting Rules Undermine SafetyYalman Onaran, Bloomberg News

The most recent set of global banking regulations, known as Basel II, is widely seen as one of the culprits for the financial crisis. So far, Basel III isn’t looking much better.

The Great Canadian Maple Syrup HeistBrendan Borrell, Bloomberg Businessweek

Québec dominates the world’s maple syrup market. It even has a “Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve.” And 6 million pounds of it disappeared.

Growth Forecast Errors and Fiscal MultipliersOlivier Blanchard and Daniel Leigh, International Monetary Fund

Warning: this is a long, technical research paper about macroeconomic forecasting. But it’s also an implicit admission by the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund that they’ve been getting it wrong for years. 

Eunuchs of the Universe
Tom Wolfe, Newsweek 

America’s foremost chronicler of Wall Street excess returns to the world of finance to find the masters of the universe reduced to something less.