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The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals Paperback – Bargain Price, March 9, 2010
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
By David M. Kinchen
Everything in life is founded on confidence -- Ivar Kreuger
History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. -- Kurt Vonnegut
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. -- Karl Marx
* * *
Charles Ponzi, Bernard Madoff, R. Allen Stanford, Ivar Kreuger.
Kreuger? Who's he?
Frank Partnoy tells us about the Swedish financier who outdid Ponzi, Madoff and the Texan Standford in an elegantly written biography "The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals" (PublicAffairs, 304 pages, $26.95).
Ponzi's scheme was penny ante compared with Kreuger's machinations, which resulted in a grand illusion that lasted more than a decade and saw Kreuger lending money to European governments and creating financial instruments that are still in use today. The New York Times Co., for instance, uses "B" shares, which have only a fraction of the voting power of "A" shares. This concept was created by Kreuger, as were privately customized, over-the-counter derivatives, now a multi-trillion dollar market, Partnoy says.
Complex foreign exchange options were another Kreuger invention, now widely used today in transactions totaling trillions of dollars. Hybrid debentures? Kreuger invented these and they're widely used by many financial institutions and companies such as Avon.
Kreuger (1880-1932) was a civil engineer by training and a financier, entrepreneur and industrialist by instinct. In 1908 he co-founded a construction company called Kreuger & Toll.Read more ›
The book is a masterpiece. When you read, you will marvel at the persistence and ingenuity of the research that lies behind the words. Possibly, the finest single thread is description of the way in which Krueger enlisted the loyalty of people essential to him. Yes, some he bought, but most - he beguiled. He gave people a sense of participating in something that gave them an excuse to have an expanded view of themselves. This is not a costless process and Krueger spent much solitary, and - one suspects - depressed time, time re energizing this capacity to give others a sense of being greater than they otherwise might have been.Read more ›
Clearly this book is not a biography in any sense of the word but is properly classified as a business history. The author, Frank Partnoy, is focused on the last decade of Krueger's life when Kreuger was striking deals to lend money to governments in return for monopolies in producing and selling matches. This strategy put him in conflict with traditional bankers, such as the J.P. Morgan company, and required Kreuger to raise huge amounts of money in Wall Street.
The vast bulk of the book is concerned with these transactions and how Kreuger achieved them. Unfortunately there was a large element of fraud associated with the transactions. Kreuger's financial statements were manipulated to show profits and assets which weren't there. However the main interest in the book is how Kreuger also manipulated the auditors, investment bankers, commercial bankers and directors to facilitate his frauds. Kreuger used his intelligence, charm and networking to cater to their greed, ego and ignorance.
The author tries to position Kreuger as the pioneer in Wall Street fraud and attempts to show that his "innovations" come down to the current day. Having read to book I would say that case was "not proven". Financial fraud has existed for eternity and without a sweeping review of its history, which this book is not, it is impossible to say who was first in any innovations. The fact that the author references Bernie Madoff or uses trendy terms (i.e.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
THANK YOU Mr. Partnoy for going to a lot of trouble to piece together the history, life and story of Ivar Kreuger. Very well done. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Frank Dutro
My Kindle edition suffers from neglect of I.K.'s early years which, as is well known from other bio. info. Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Hammond
Since reading his name mentioned in Galbraith book, I wanna know more about Kruger, then this book turned out to be a perfect fit. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kim
A fascinating read about Ivar Kreuger and his financial dealings and companies. In the wake of the financial crisis the world is currently facing, Partnoy's book seems all the... Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by A&P
An absolutely amazing story - masterfully researched and written!
I cannot figure out why Ivar Kreuger is not a household name.
Frank Partnoy is a Professor of Law and Finance and he is an expert in complex financial structures and regulation. Read morePublished on March 1, 2013 by investingbythebooks