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On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir Hardcover – April 30, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A giant among pundits, Henry Kaufman is the Wall Street legend who founded the science of Federal Reserve watching, now a popular spectator sport. In a career that spans the last 50 years, his views and forecasts have grown increasingly influential, and his pronouncements often move markets, earning him the sobriquet "Dr. Doom" because of his oft-expressed concern about financial excesses and the failure of regulators to take steps to prevent them from occurring. "Policy can not be predicated on the assumption that reasonable financial behavior is the norm," he writes. On Money and Markets is both a personal memoir and a historical retrospective in which he elaborates on these concerns and prescribes a reorganization of the IMF and the World Bank and the creation of a new international entity with oversight of major financial institutions and markets.

Kaufman believes himself "more sensitized than many native-born Americans to economic developments that might endanger the country--a concern that dates back to my formative years, when I listened to my grandfather's recitation of the German hyperinflation of the 1920s--how it contributed to the rise of Nazism and thus forced us to flee Germany." Starting as a $45-a-week bank credit analyst in 1949, Kaufman joined Salomon Brothers in 1962 to build a world-class research department, later becoming a senior partner and vice chairman. He was the first person at Salomon to hold a doctoral degree, beginning a trend in the financial community toward greater analytical sophistication, one that would broaden and deepen in later decades. When he began interest-rate analysis and forecasting, information on the Federal Reserve was rare, and his observations quickly gained a large audience of investors, fund managers, economists, and policymakers. He writes, "In spite of its imperfections, the Federal Reserve comes closer to being an independent and objective arbiter and policy body than any other institution in our economic democracy."

He concludes the book by looking backward a century for a sense of perspective on the role of finance in the modern world. Former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, Kaufman's contemporary, rightly suggests in the foreword that this book "should be prescribed reading for all whose future and fortunes are tied to the performance of our financial system." --Scott Harrison

From Publishers Weekly

Crisp, jargon-free and self-assured, this memoir traces a famous economist's rise from rural Germany to the top of Wall Street. Born in a remote farming village in the upper Hessen region in 1927, Kaufman emigrated to America at age 10, when his family left Nazi Germany after a raid on their house. In New York, his lack of English put him four years behind in school, although Kaufman's intelligence and hard work later help him earn a Ph.D. in economics, gain a job at the Federal Reserve and, in the 1980s, rise to become the vice chairman of Salomon, Inc. and eventually found his own firm. Kaufman recounts these events with passion and precision, carefully avoiding melodrama. Among his recollections are several amusing anecdotes, including one from his years as an industrial banker in 1950s New York City, when he discovered a bank client on a rendezvous in a nightclub with a young woman who was not his wife and promptly revoked his credit line. His insider's perspective on the birth of the modern bond market and the globalization of banking will appeal to market watchers. Particularly interesting are Kaufman's candid revelations of how his experiences have affected his fiscal opinions. For example, his middle-class grandparents' memories of how 1920s German hyperinflation disenfranchised them made him a strong supporter of anti-inflationary policies; he was acutely sensitized to the relation between economic and social stability after witnessing how skyrocketing unemployment provided tinder to Nazi hatred. The book concludes with a survey of contemporary financial problems and the lessons of the recent and distant past. Though Kaufman's prose is starchy, his blend of moving personal history and insightful financial analysis make this memoir a sure bet for finance mavens. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies; First Edition edition (April 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071360492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071360494
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,077,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on August 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The business section of any bookstore has shelves stretching to the horizon with business books, or more specifically books about Wall Street, and how to get rich in various absurdly short periods of time. My personal favorite is "The 20 Stocks To Own Right Now", how is now defined? When the book was written, or the day the book is purchased. The title by definition makes the volume worthless. The latest section to expand exponentially is the area of "Day Trading" which is for a select few with some key talents and a massive tolerance for risk. The odds are better you will make money writing about day trading than playing the 300-500 trade a day frenzy. These are the types of books that have their moment of fame when movies like "Wall Street" and "Boiler Room" are in theaters, when those who have a career that spans the length of the current unprecedented growth populate Wall Street. The worst of these are the badly written kiss and tell books written by 20 something's who detail the evils of Wall Street that they made money from, and then they write a book when their brief fling with the street is over.
Then there are the legends, the players who measure their careers not in 15 minutes, but in blocks of 15 years. They built "The Street", they have seen the hotshots come and go, at times to a minimum-security prison. They may have not bought Cisco the day it was offered to the public, but over time their success is the envy of the investing world.
In this case the man is Mr. Harry Kaufman, a man who has had the ear of Presidents, and Federal Reserve Chairmen, and countless CEOS', one of who wrote the introduction to this book, Paul A. Volcker. Mr. Kaufman, Mr. Buffet, Mr.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John C. Bogle on June 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Henry Kaufman's book is much more than a compelling saga of a life, a career, and a financial history. It is a reminder of the risks that abound in today's markets, and of the compelling importance of the great values that have led to the strength of the nation's financial system. In the book's most important chapter (16), Dr. Kaufman presents 17 neglected lessons for policymakers, financial institutions, and investors. If we ignore them, the well-catalogued sins of our financial past will return to haunt us. Consider Lesson 4: "..basic fiduciary duty too often has been forgotten in the high-voltage, high velocity financial environment of recent decades . . . the notion of financial trusteeship has been lost in the shuffle." He's right, and readers will profit immensely by taking heed, not only of those words, but the entire book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K Lee on May 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am tempted to recommend "On Money and Markets" to students who are aspiring a career in corporate finance and banking industry.
I like this book especially in its spectacular overview of the history of modern financial markets. Mr. Kaufman's accounts of his own life were also impressive in that his life exemplifies a passionate man's incessant pursuit of understanding and adapting to turbulent changes in the modern economy.
Mr. Kaufman's erudite illustrations which are equipped with detailed graphs and data make this book easier to understand and provide solid grounds to his insights into the financial architecture in the new century.
I would say that this book is a good start for non-finance major college students to take a brief look at the financial market and its history. I strongly recommend this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Henry Kaufman is one of the most important figures in the development of world credit markets in the last 40 years. This book is part biography, part history of the post World War II period in the financial markets, and part prescription for the financial markets in the next two decades. The book is written in a lucid, qualitative, approachable way that makes it accessible and interesting to almost any reader. In a foreword by Paul Volcker, the highly regarded former chairman of the Federal Reserve, you will learn that the on-going, difficult financial problems of the current age mean that "On Money and Markets should be prescribed reading for all those whose future and fortunes are tied to the performance of our financial systems."
Dr. Kaufman's influence has evolved through his studies of the credit markets, role in developing them as head of research at Solomon Brothers, commentator on the credit markets and Federal Reserve policy, and forecaster of financial market trends. He is well respected, even by those who do not agree with him. Perhaps his most influential moment came on August 17, 1982 when he called the turn in the interest rate environment that kicked in the bond and stock market boom in the United States that has lasted ever since.
Let me briefly describe each part of the book. The first nine chapters are primarily a biography of Dr. Kaufman. Despite the fact that I have been following his thinking closely for over 20 years, much of this was new to me. He is modest in speaking about his accomplishments, which makes the story more appealing. The story of how Dr. Kaufman became "the" Henry Kaufman is well worth your time.
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