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The Greed Merchants: How the Investment Banks Played the Free Market Game Hardcover – April 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Augar's The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism (2001) described how the cozy club of British merchant banking collapsed due to mismanagement and scandal. It was an insider's account; Augar was the head of Schroder Securities, a London merchant bank founded in 1804. (He sold the company to U.S. financial services giant Citigroup.) This book takes stock of similar doings on this side of the Atlantic. While many firms have met ignominious fates in the past few years, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch managed to avoid the worst of the scandals; through what Augar sees as superior management, they command investment banking. Three other firms, Lehman Brothers, Salomon Brothers (now part of Citigroup) and First Boston (now part of CSFB) proved "impossible to kill," making what Augar characterizes as huge errors but somehow surviving as a solid second tier. Finally, JPMorgan and Bear Stearns—along with two European banks that made U.S. acquisitions, UBS and Deutsche Bank—managed to find niche positions near the top. Despite the inflammatory title and cover, the author offers only mild and familiar criticisms: bankers are overpaid, the industry is too powerful and banks sometimes put their own interests above their clients (or one client's interests above another's). The heavy reliance on anonymous personal interviews of bankers gives a strong inside feel to the story, but one that undercuts its power as objective journalism. (On sale Apr. 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

His career in investment banking sets the stage for Augar's tell-all book about this industry in which the large U.S. investment banks dominate every large capital market. In questioning the existence of an investment-banking cartel, he asks if a few firms make excessive returns, keep prices high, act together? We learn about the "Edge," which Wall Street has, because Wall Street can monitor market movements as they happen. The large investment banks gather an extraordinary amount of knowledge through their massive participation in global stock exchanges and through the wide array of products they sell. Their superior knowledge and power stack the odds in their favor, and the author contends that it is the general public that provides all the rich rewards garnered by the investment banks' employees and shareholders. As a character in the movie Wall Street declared, "Greed, for want of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works." A provocative book. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Edition edition (April 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840879
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,468,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Yu on December 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Those are the last words of the book, and was written in 2005. The author was presciently warning his reader. Some might feel that its outdated, but it makes very relevant, if not interesting reading. The thesis of the book is the cartel (mafia)-like monopolization of the world-wide financial lifeblood (commercial credit) by financial institutions. That lifeblood is what is needed by everyone from the budding entrepreneur to the blue chips companies to run and expand their companies. The repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act allowed the 'innocent' household name commercial banks (with your deposits and mortgages) to compete in this avaricious environment. And boy, did they. They tried to outsmart each other through the often indecipherable derivative packages that were being financially engineered, akin to the latest car or bridge. Even after the Internet bust, Enron and Worldcom, many emerged to become even stronger; Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros. AIG, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup included. I can only imagine Mr. Augar having a field day with a followup, post 2008.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Austrian Economist on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Few books honestly expose the investment banking game for what it really is. It is all about maximizing compensation for those who run the investment banks, regardless of the expense or toll it takes on ordinary citizens or an actual country.

Investment bankers and all Wall Street have an insiders edge and they use it to overcompensate themselves. Bankers and investment bankers have no qualms about looting investors, a company or country and driving it into bankruptcy so they can make their Christmas bonuses...

Philip Augar's The Greed Merchants: How the Investment Banks Played the Free Market Game is a wonderful and simple expose on all the inherent conflicts of interest in banking, whether it be commercial or investment banking.

I highly recommend it.


Barry J. Dyke, RIA

Hampton, NH
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Format: Hardcover
I do appreciate the author's sincerity of warning the public against the legal and moral problems of the greedy and corrupted investment banking industry. The author, an ex Group Managing Director of Schroder, had fully leveraged his insider experience and knowledge to explain why a handful of big firms continue to monopolize and thrive in the midst of heavy public and governmental scrutiny. Dont know whether the topic had been too serious or what, it fell into the same trap which caught "Infectious Greed by Frank Partnoy", that the writing seemed too descriptive or even dry at times. In case you want to read something relatively light, entertaining but still relevant, Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, Fiasco by Frank Partnoy and Wall Street Meat by Andy Kessler are good choices.
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