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Book review: Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis

  • Friday, November 29 2013 @ 05:36 PM EST
  • Views: 4,483
Other There is no shortage of investment themed books. A quick look on Amazon shows that tens of thousands of books on this topic are currently available. Many authors write about investment ideas, investment theory, biographies of famous investors, investigative reports, economics, philosophy of money, etc. So how does Michael Lewis' Liars Poker differ from the rest? Since I have not read the other tens of thousands of investment books, I can't provide a definitive view about its relative value (or lack thereof). What I can tell you is that after reading this book, I have a better understanding of how Wall Street operated and evolved in the important financial period of the 1980s and to some extent, probably still does today.

The investment banks and brokerage firms may have different names (Solomon Brothers, First Boston, Drexel Burnham, Morgan Guaranty, etc.) as many went under or merged or were swallowed up by the ever larger financial institutions, but we can assume that the game is still the same. There may be more regulations meant to protect the clients of big institutions but are they any better off? The job of selling investments has evolved - its no longer just salesmen cold calling their customers to sell what the traders have bought. There are many other ways for companies to get this same message out to the investing public thanks to the various financial media outlets (newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio and of course the internet).

Liars Poker is part autobiography and part scratching the surface of Wall Street of the 1980s. Lewis tells the story about how he landed a job at Solomon Brothers after leaving the London School of Economics, the life of a "trainee" at Solomon Brothers, the high stakes gambling on and off the trading floor, the complete lack of investment (product) knowledge of the sales staff and the underlying drive to make more, and more money. The reader also learns about how two significant investment products - mortgage backed securities (MBS) and junk bonds - came into being and their significant impact to the investment industry. They made a lot of people a lot of money. Which leads to big swinging dicks. WTF? Yes, the book also provides us mere non-Wall Street mortals with some of the Solomon/Wall Street catch phrases like "big swinging dick", "human piranha", "equities in Dallas", "rabbis", "hoot and holler", "laws of the jungle" and most importantly "blowing up a customer". Remember the last one when you see any advice from Wall Street.

This book is a good start for delving into some of Michael Lewis' other very good works.
Book review: Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis | 2 comments | Create New Account

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  • Book review: Liar
  • Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 01 2013 @ 11:37 AM EST
I am a fan of Michael Lewis. Now that you've finished Liar's Poker, I hope you will move on to the Big Short. It is another excellent book about the financial industry.
  • Book review: Liar
  • Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, December 03 2013 @ 12:13 AM EST
The Big Short is next in line.

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