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Nightmare on Wall Street: Salomon Brothers and the Corruption of the Marketplace Hardcover – June, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In painstaking detail, bestselling business author Mayer ( The Bankers ) traces the spectacular rise of Wall Street's most powerful investment house and its ignominious fall in the 1991 scandal involving a $10 billion manipulation of the U.S. Treasury note and bond market. Mayer finds that Reagan-era deregulation, combined with second-generation greed and cynicism at Salomon Brothers, encouraged the development of various "bells and whistles"--investment embellishments which tended to mislead clients, disguise illegalities and obscure "terrific markups." Among those involved in this "conspiracy against the tax-paying citizenry" are such colorful characters as "Billy" Salomon and John Gutfreund. But Mayer also recounts the larger story of the evolution of finance "from a context of relationships to a context of transactions" designed for pure profit. Though some of the market complexities can occasionally make it heavy going for the general reader, this is a landmark treatment of the money world, pegged to one particularly dramatic and alarming case history.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Founded in 1910, the investment firm of Salomon Brothers almost collapsed after irregularities in its bond trading department were discovered in 1991. Mayer ( The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery , LJ 10/1/90; The Bankers , LJ 2/1/75) details the role of the firm's executives in the scandal. In doing so, he demonstrates the complex interrelationships among financial institutions and leaves the reader to contemplate what might have happened if Warren Buffet had not stepped in to save the firm by replacing top management. While Mayer shows that federal officials were not blameless for failing to provide better supervision of the bond auctions, he raises an important question about the adequacy of corporate governance in the industry. A worthwhile buy for business libraries.
- Joseph Barth, U. S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671781871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671781873
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Martin Mayer is also the author of books such as The Greatest Ever Bank Robbery : The Collapse of the Savings and Loan Industry, The Bankers: The Next Generation The New Worlds Money Credit Banking Electronic Age, The Fed : The Inside Story How World's Most Powerful Financial Institution Drives Markets, etc.

In the 1980s, Salomon Brothers was the largest dealer in government bonds, the largest underwriter of corporate securities, the largest nongovernmental packager of home mortgages for sale as securities, the largest trader of blocks of American stock, and the largest investment house in Britain and Japan (Pg. 10). Mayer notes, however, that "the youngsters who succeeded to the Salomon name had never learned why there were rules against cheating." (Pg. 46)

He notes, "in Ronald Reagan's and George Bush's administrations, nobody much wanted to regulate anything that was making money. Greed was good; more greed was better. Fraud was undesirable but only a frictional inefficiency, and, after all, the best people were doing it." (Pg. 71) He observes, "By 1986 there were more than five hundred officers of Salomon Brothers who made more than half a million dollars a year." (Pg. 113)

Salomon became a public corporation, rather than a partnership; "Employees could not be expected to have the same lifelong loyalty that partners had." (Pg.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Wow! It is hard for me to describe how much I loved this book! It is so gripping, I was on the edge of my seat in fear. It kept me up for many nights because it is so scary, and when I could fall asleep I had nightmares about it! Freddy Kreuger, look out. The Salomon Brothers are coming to town!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This does offer some good insight into Salomon Brothers but unfortunately the author does not have the same gift with words that Michael Lewis does. This would be an amazing book had it been written by Michael Lewis. I found it a struggle to read more than 10-15 pages at a time.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on April 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would term this book a nightmare. This book is about as dry as three day old non-buttered toast. The authors premises is that the activity on Wall Street during the 80's - the junk bond M & A items will kill corporations due to the debit levels thus decimate the equities markets. Not that this is that unique of a thought and the book only gets duller from that point. I picked this book up because I wanted to learn something, but the wooden writing turned me off so much I finally had to close the book after the longest 100 pages in my life. Unless you are a relative or friend of the author I would suggest continuing to look for other titles.
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