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Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance Paperback – December 27, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“a rigorous but rewarding biography” (CFO Europe, October 2005)
“highly readable” (Benefits & Compensation International, October 2005)
"...well-researched...recommended..." (Accounting Technician, September 2005)
"The story of Fischer Black...is remarkable both because of the creativity of the man and because of the revolution he brought to wall Street.… Mehrling's book is fascinating..." (Financial Times, 12th September 2005)
“…recommended as readable to those with the intellectual curiosity to pursue financial theory…” (The Independent, 30 July 2005)
“… a vignette-based business biography that captures the essence of this extraordinary man…engaging and entertaining…” (Credit Control Journal, July 2005)
In a 30-year career equally divided between academics (University of Chicago) and Wall Street, Black contributed seminal papers in almost every area of finance and many areas of economics, but few were published in major peer-reviewed journals and many were never published at all. He spent most of his time alone in a room thinking and writing, was uncomfortable in large groups, an undistinguished lecturer and famously eccentric in ways more irritating than amusing or dramatic. All of this gives Barnard economist Mehrling (The Money Interest and the Public Interest) his work cut out for him. He has responded with a book that, beyond providing the facts of Black's life, serves as the best currently available general history of the revolution in finance that took place between 1960 and 1990: the essential ideas and disputes are explained clearly, with a minimum of mathematics and jargon, and the relationships among the leading innovators are explored concisely but in depth. As far as Black goes, Mehrling gives a clear picture of his working life and reveals the strong family ties and close personal friendships of a man often thought to have been emotionless. On the whole, Mehrling's book is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of modern finance or the life of an idiosyncratic creative genius. (July) (Publishers Weekly, June 6, 2005)
"A fascinating history of things we take for granted in our everyday financial lives." (The New York Times)
"[Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance] does an exceptional job of capturing Black’s spirit and gives an insightful inside account of the academic financial revolution." (Global Association of Risk Professionals magazine)
"Mehrling skillfully interweaves the stories of Black's career, his sometimes-difficult personal life, and his contributions to finance and to economics . . . In telling the story of Black's life, Mehrling casts light on a crucial, underappreciated aspect of the making of our current world."-Science magazine
"Excellent new biography of Fischer Black, one of the great innovators of modern finance theory. . . Mehrling also provides an engaging history of the development of quantitative finance and a solid introduction to some of its central concepts."--Region Focus, Fall 2005
"By unearthing Black's personal story, Mehrling conjures a unique glimpse into the context in which "the Einstein of finance" viewed liquidity, risk, capital, business cycles -- the world's entire economic equilibrium. Once inside the mind of Black, you may never look at the market the same way again." --Trader Monthly magazine
"Besides being a splendid account of the early and great years of the development of Finance as an academic discipline, and a fascinating biography of an extraordinary but difficult genius, this book made me think and reflect more than almost any other book."--Journal of the History of Economic Thought
"...Wit and insight" ( Financial Management, December 2006)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Fischer Black, the human being was as interesting as Nash. As a young man, he was quite the adventurer and engaged in casual sex and taking LSD. But, after suffering a failed marriage and the death of a close friend he recognized the risk of those activities. Thus, he started to live by the CAPM motto to manage the risk in his own life. He drove safe cars, wearing seatbelts before it was mandatory and adhering to a strict diet (fish and vegetables). He married another two times to finally get it right. During his second marriage, when it was not working out, he would seek female companions by posting personal ads in the local paper. And, he would encourage his wife to do the same! Later, he met his third wife through a dating service.
Fischer Black became famous for what he cared less about: the Black Scholes option model. Options were just a passing interest. He cared more about CAPM developed by Jack Traynor. His lifelong ambition was to apply CAPM to economics.
He failed to leave a legacy in economics. Perry Mehrling explains why. Fischer Black had degrees in physics and mathematics but no formal training in economics. His General Equilibrium theory clashed with both Keynesians and monetarists. While at Chicago, his General Equilibrium theory got no respect from Milton Friedman, the leading monetarist. Later, Paul Samuelson, the leading Keynesian at MIT, treated him just as badly. He could not get his economics papers published. In academia he became recognized as cutting edge in finance, but out of his depth in economics.
Fischer was very much egoless.Read more ›
Fischer Black was an unlikely revolutionary. He thought like no one else. While teaching, his colleagues attacked problems with formulas and models. Fischer Black did not. He opted to explore them from as many different angles as he could conceive. Once solved, he generated a formula. Solving problems this way, Black found he avoided formula-dictated thinking ruts.
His teaching style was bizarre. He got bored teaching regurgitated knowledge. In his view regular lectures were a waste of time. He developed an engaging teaching style by asking 50 open-ended questions. Combined with his insistence that students learn the language of finance, this interaction gave air to brilliant minds. Black cherry-picked great ideas. His students loved the vibrant seminars.
Fischer Black became famous for what he cared less about: the Black-Scholes option model. Options were just a passing interest. He cared more about Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) developed by Jack Traynor. He sought to apply it to economics.
He failed to leave a legacy in traditional economics. Fischer Black had degrees in physics and mathematics but no formal training in economics. In academia, he became recognized as forward-thinking in finance, but out of his depth in economics.
Robert Rubin, then the managing partner of Goldman Sachs, said it best when he sold his partners on the idea of hiring the academic Black.
"We will learn from Fischer," he is quoted by the author as saying, "and he will learn from us."
Fischer was egoless. He took rebuttals in stride. Open to change, he was an unapologetic believer in free markets. His unorthodox style sparked a revolution in the business of finance. His innovative thinking drove finance to the forefront of the science of economics.
Perry Mehrling has written a brilliant biography about a brilliant man.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simply fascinating. As someone considering pursuing a PhD in either finance or economics, I picked up this book hoping it would help me understand how the two fields relate in a... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Donovan
Review of Fischer Black by Paul F. Ross
Author Perry Mehrling is an economist and economic historian at Columbia University who traces the idea of the Capital Asset... Read more
Fascinating story, too bad I can't absorb all the great ideas in it! Will re-read it next year and see if I can learn more.Published 20 months ago by John D.
I love Perry Mehrling's biographies and biographical sketches of great economists. He's very precise, gives references for follow up, and presents his subjects as admirable though... Read morePublished on April 16, 2014 by Hazard
This book was said to be new by the reseller, but it's condition is anything but. The paper has yellowed and numerous page corners are bent. Read morePublished on July 15, 2013 by T. D. Jess
Having a finance background made this book very enjoyable. Perry Mehrling did a good job at writing this biography. It has great insight into Fischer Black's life and mind. Read morePublished on April 21, 2013 by dbianco
I enjoyed this book very much. As I work in the finance area, it was nice to see the development of this profession through history and Mr. Black's involvement in it. Read morePublished on January 27, 2013 by Daniel Nathan
This is a very good bio about one of the modern day influencers in the market. It's a revealing look into a complex man's life and I think it was written pretty well considering... Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Robert Kirk
The book has little on how exactly finance works or why it is interesting. Where are the math, the politics, and the results that justify the "revolutionary ideas"?Published on May 20, 2012 by Pippi