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Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know Hardcover – October 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421785
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Levitt, the Securities and Exchange Commission's longest-serving chairman, supervised stock markets during the late 1990s dot-com boom. As working Americans poured billions into stocks and mutual funds, corporate America devised increasingly opaque strategies for hoarding most of the proceeds. Levitt reveals their tactics in plain language, then spells out how to intelligently invest in mutual funds and the stock market. His advice is aimed squarely at small, individual investors, as he explains how to look for clues of malfeasance in annual reports, understand press releases and draw more from reliable sources. Woven throughout are his recollections about the SEC boardroom fights he oversaw. While most of them serve to illustrate a point about the market and its machinations, some passages, often outlining a failure or frustration, are oddly apologetic. In particular, when addressing the origins of recent corporate scandals (e.g., those involving Enron and Arthur Anderson), his effort to lay the responsibility equally on indifferent legislators, special interest groups, greedy CEOs and, perhaps most of all, lazy investors, makes it clear that Levitt wishes to avoid criminalizing corporate officers' actions. (After all, many of them are his friends and colleagues.) The final chapters, detailing how stocks are bought after they're ordered ("Pay Attention to the Plumbing") and retirement plans are structured ("Getting Your 401(k) in Shape") return to practical, profitable advice. One in particular, "Beware False Profits: How to Read Financial Statements," is worth the book's price. Levitt's mini-MBA course-sans the lifelong club connections-should be mandatory reading for anyone with a dollar invested in the stock market.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Good advice to individual investors from the longest-serving chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to any investor.
Mariusz Skonieczny
I guess what I'm saying is Let's call a spade a spade not tapdance around the issue.
dogfish
The book give some insight into how courupt Wall Street and many brokers are.
2 cents worth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Philip Brown on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Chances are anyone who rates this book as a 1 is a broker, member of AICPA, or serves on the Senate Banking committee. I am an investor who is very concerned about the greedily protected lack of transparency in the way public companies report their earnings or lack thereof, so I am giving this excellent book a 5.
The book is useful because it describes how securities markets really work. It also functions as practical investment advice which details what is happening with your money after it leaves your hands. It should be required reading in MBA programs. Finally, voters will be much more informed about how Congress, through its protection of accountants, investment bankers, and brokers, is interfering with the efficient allocation of capital in the US economy.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really appreciated the honest insight that this fascinating book gives into the "shady" corporate dealings of Wall Street companies, their greedy, dishonest CEOs and ineffectual Board members. It also provides good, sound help for the trusting investor with practical advice on how to read between the company statement lines and cautions the investor about the many potential pitfalls of corporate corruption. I just wonder, if such shenanigans were so well known to the SEC, why was it allowed to continue and fester for so long? Anyway, Mr. Arthur Levitt's willingness to at least assist investors is to be highly commended.
While reading "Take On The Street" I was reminded of another book that preceded this one, entitled, "MANAGEMENT BY VICE" by the author/scientist C.B.DON. I would very much recommend that any wary investor interested in the high-tech industry sector also reads this marvelous book. The lessons and advice in "Management By Vice" are there for all to see in episodes of sharp, candid satire with a touch of wicked humor as it provides a very important insight into the inner workings of industry life, and in genuine "satire"-style, reveals the "vices" and follies of managers, the frustrations of high-tech technical staff, their "caveats" to investors and sheds a spotlight onto typical high-tech mis-management going on right now in such company settings.
As "Take On The Street" focuses on Wall Street trickery, so "Management By Vice" frankly exposes true-to-life examples of project blunders, corporate misrepresentations and misappropriations, management greed, managerial/corporate abuses, ignorance and bluffing and attitudes towards investors, to name but a few. Both books are indeed a must-read for cautious investors, though from different "insider" angles...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I'm really shocked at all the negative reviews this book is getting. I think they are totally unfair.
A lot of the criticism of this book is by people who claim to be disgruntled investors who lost big in the stock market. They seem to be taking it out on former SEC chairman Levitt. They are dead wrong!
Arthur Levitt championed the cause of small investors. He championed investors' rights against tough opposition from the Big 5 (now Big 4 sans Andersen) accounting firms, some (but not all) Wall Street financiers, etc. Levitt stuck to his principles in spite of tremendous opposition, personal insults, and threats to the SEC. The ONLY reason he lost in his attempts to defend small investors was because some members of Congress were bought off by Levitt's (and investors') enemies. This isn't just something that Levitt believes; almost everyone who has followed the issue on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill (EVEN Levitt's enemies) ALL agree that the above were the facts. In spite of the opposition, Levitt did manage to get some issues on the table (Reg FD - 'Fair Disclosure' - and trying to make accounting for derivatives as well as the co-habitation between accountants & consultants issues for public debate). All of that was accomplished by Levitt even when some in Congress threatened to cut the funding to the SEC.
Mr. Levitt's book recounts his heroic efforts, in the face of fierce opposition, to reform a flawed system. His book should be applauded for those reasons alone! On top of that, Mr. Levitt offers some sound advice to investors that would have helped to prevent many of those who have lost their shirts (and foolishly bash Levitt's book) from getting fooled into bad investment decisions.
Do I think Levitt's book is perfect or all that it claims to be? No.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Levitt's book should be used by business schools scrambling to put together courses on business ethics and corporate governance. As a student working towards my MBA, I found this book to be of great value in an environment that lacks a curriculum to explain many of the issues underlying recent corporate scandals.
As a young professional, this book has also helped me better understand and manage my mini-portfolio, including my 401K. Truly a valuable read that has given me much to think about as I manage my financial future.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Anything Warren Buffett recommends cannot be bad in terms of books. I read this book and found it to be extremely relevant given today's market backdrop and the corporate shenanigans on Wall Street. Levitt names names and points his finger at those he KNOWS are responsible for much of the questionable behaviour. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to know about the back room games played and how to protect one's self from being played by the big boys. Do yourself a favour and read this book.
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