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Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager Paperback – June 22, 2010


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Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager + Money Mavericks: Confessions of a Hedge Fund Manager (2nd Edition) (Financial Times Series) + More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Penguin Press))
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061965308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061965302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Expanding on a 2007 interview in the literary magazine n+1, editor and interviewer Gessen draws together two years' worth of interviews with a despairing anonymous hedge fund manager. HFM, as Gessen calls him, didn't go to business school or major in economics, but has been working successfully in hedge funds for over a decade. With some context provided by Gessen, HFM schools readers in the stories behind the death of Bear Stearns, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the plunging dollar, the bailouts, the Madoff scandal, and, finally, the upswing. Though it's interesting to have a personal take on the tumultuous past two years—and HFM ends the interviews when the stress finally drives him to take a semisabbatical—the decision to tell this story in an interview format is tricky and ultimately unsuccessful; the choppy transcription format distances readers from the ideas at hand, and the points lose their punch. Fans of the original article will find this expansion compelling, but other readers curious about the factors behind the crash will do better elsewhere. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This book is a series of interviews with an anonymous hedge-fund manager (HFM) by the co-editor of a literary magazine (who admits to being ill-informed on finance); he sets out to understand what is happening on Wall Street. The HFM offers a brilliant financial professional's view of the economic situation in real time, from September 2007, when problems in financial markets began to surface, until late summer 2009, when the financial meltdown generally subsided and the financial community went back, in HFM's view, to business as usual. With definitions of financial terms and products, and explanations of domestic and global issues as they occur, HFM draws from his decade of nonstop work as a hedge-fund manager to educate the interviewer and us as the financial crisis unfolds. This is a great read. The interviews are edited in a readily understandable manner and will provide a thoughtful perspective for a wide range of library patrons who want to learn about the recent financial debacle. --Mary Whaley

More About the Author

n+1 is a Brooklyn-based magazine of literature, culture, and politics published three times yearly. It was founded in 2004 by Keith Gessen (All the Sad Literary Young Men), Mark Greif, Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding), Benjamin Kunkel (Indecision), and Marco Roth and immediately attracted attention in New York and beyond. A. O. Scott described it in the New York Times Magazine as part of "a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism"; German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote, "they intend nothing less than to reimagine and reestablish the world."

Since its founding, n+1 has published Elif Batuman's remarkable first essays (later collected in The Possessed), Mark Greif's classic essays "Against Exercise," "On Radiohead," and "Afternoon of the Sex Children," excerpts from Helen DeWitt's latest novels (most recently Lightning Rods), and other memorable pieces. Each issue is about the length of a novel (200 pages), and features criticism, memoirs, fiction, reviews, and political essays. We also publish small books (most notably What Was the Hipster?) and at Amazon have made Kindle editions of all our publications and Kindle Singles of individual pieces available.

Our fall issue, "Conversion Experience," features a report from the Gathering of the Juggalos, an essay by Mark Greif on Stanley Cavell as a philosopher and teacher, an excerpt from Helen DeWitt's new novel, a history of the music website Pitchfork, and an essay on the politics and angst of gay marriage. We encourage you to take a look at let us know what you think. You can read more about us, browse web-only content, and find contact information at www.nplusonemag.com.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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I found this book to be very entertaining.
Beau Crenshaw
I enjoyed that read much more but must credit this book for spurring the subject.
R. Spell
It helped me understand what the hell just happened.
Toby Barlow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Neurasthenic TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book far surpasses the expectations set by its simple premise -- a series of interviews of an unnamed hedge fund manager who specialized in trading emerging market debt through the financial crisis of 2008. No secrets are revealed about the inner workings of the global financial system, and the factual content of the book can be found elsewhere. This book is great not because it explains a credit crunch, or how to trade bonds or manage portfolio risk (it doesn't even attempt to do these latter things), but because it provides an intelligent, funny, highly opinionated synthesis of far-reaching finance, economics, and even philosophy. Many readers will disagree with points made by the anonymous hedge fund manager who holds court in these pages, but I think any reader would benefit from the internal dialog with him we have while reading.

The end of the book, after the crisis is over, is not as compelling as the first part of the text. However, even the first 100 pages more than justifies the cost of the book and the time spent reading it.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Tang on July 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't follow the news very much, just episodes of Daily Show that let me know the general state of the world. So I knew next to nothing about the causes and implications of the financial meltdown or the rationale of the bailout. I picked this book up because I liked the interview format and thought I could learn a little. It turned out to be an amazing read: it was fairly easy to understand, both the interviewer and interviewee were likable, and it gave me a lot of insight into the financial world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about what happened with the economy, but find other, denser books too daunting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Wagner on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I would have known that this was a book of edited transcripts of interviews I probably wouldn't have bought it; but I didn't and I did and I'm glad I did. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I have read a lot about the financial crisis but this book is a unique look at that crisis from the heart and mind of an insider who lived through it. Anonymous is not cigar chomping Neanderthal, Wall Street aristocrat or a nerdy math wizard. He is sort of a really smart everyman; a guy you'd like to have a beer with. So buy this book get in the hammock with a beer and enjoy your weekend.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By titan_UAV on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
This was a great book. Very informative from the perspective of a seemingly objective financial expert. It's a long interview conducted over a few years, so it makes it very easy to read. With the amount of info conveyed, as a non-finance guy, I did not find it to be overwhelmingly academic at all, even though I learned a tremendous amount of new information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Edgar Mihelic on July 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read so much, but I feel like I am behind the times.
Ergo, everything I say will be behind the curve and derivative.
Thus, I present you with the haiku about this book:

I know he lost his
money. But I will trust him
with all that is mine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Straddle1985 on July 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
At first I thought this book would be a trading diary covering trades a hedge funds manager made in the severe bear market of 2008, but this book doesn't contain any information on trades. It's just a very long interview with a hedge funds manager (HFM) being questioned by the author of this book. The book certainly ain't bad, it was a good quick read and very informing on the downfall of the banks and the troubles back then.

The main benefit of this book is that everything is explained pretty clearly. If you're willing to do an effort to understand what caused the downfall of the banks 3 years ago then this book is one of the best reads. The HFM covers everything chronologically and how he experienced it (first Bear Stears, then Lehman Brothers, then AIG, ..). Most books on this subject fail at explaining the main causes of financial crisis.

All in all, recommended as a quick read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lao T. Sue on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book when combined with others. It can give the reader a good, intuitive introduction to how trading and markets work. If you read this book and no others, you'll know a little and have been entertained. If you go on from this book, you'll find it can serve as a good base for further learning. As someone with experience in the securities business, I enjoyed HFM's clarity of exposition, but didn't find him the brilliant chap the interviewer seems to believe he is. He's a smart guy, no doubt, and he thinks a lot about what he does, but let's not blow this out of perspective, folks. His thoughts on Lehman Bros, Bear,AIG and Madoff are particularly interesting. Not a classic, but a good exposition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Law student on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
read this book in one sitting, liked it a lot, couldnt put it down. The style of this guy's writing is pretty enjoyable, and you feel almost bad for the 'anonymous' hedge fund manager (until you realize that he made a ton of money from his hedge fund over his career) as things go from bad to worst. but since he's mostly an emerging market trader you dont blame him too much for missing the full scale of the crisis.
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