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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Journalist Doug Henwood has produced an interesting book on U.S. financial markets. Written from a left-wing point of view, Henwood contends that these markets do not raise capital for new investments or improve corporate governance. Instead, he argues that their primary function is to enable manic corporate restructurings that accomplish little besides shifting additional wealth to rentiers who already have plenty of it. Henwood relies mainly on the research of others.
The good news about "Wall Street" is that Henwood is witty and iconoclastic. The bad news is that having these traits doesn't mean that he can put together a good book. His bloated and repetitive text mixes statistics, polemics, anecdotes, biz school research, and potted discussions of Keynes, Marx and Minsky (and Freud!). The mish-mash of data definitely informs and entertains the reader (hence my rating of 4 stars) but never systematically establishes Henwood's core thesis about the parasitism of Wall Street. The book is worth reading but mainly for readers with a background in finance or economics who can separate the wheat from the chaff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2011
This book will not teach you how to pick stocks. Rather, it offers an unusual and deep perspective on how the markets (mal)function. Although the author has a clear anti-capitalistic (or more specifically anti-current-incarnation-of-capitalism) bias, the book is well written and researched. I believe the information it contains is extremely relevant today. The author makes a number of valid, undeniably prescient points, even if I am not quite sure that the solutions he offers would necessarily lead to the desired outcomes. A fair warning: readers who cannot bear anything philosophically related to Marxism may experience allergic reactions. For those students of the markets willing to keep an open mind, Mr. Henwood's book is a must-read.
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on December 1, 2012
As the title indicates, this book is an introduction to Wall Street - how it works and for whom. The book is composed of seven chapters as follows:

1- Instruments: This chapter covers the range of instruments traded on Wall Street, such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies etc.

2- Players: This chapter covers the main stakeholders including households, nonfinancial business, financial institutions, the government etc.

3- Ensemble: This chapter discusses how the markets are intertwined, with a focus on credit, finance and the economy, allocation etc. It also includes a sample trading week to put these concepts into action.

4- Market Models: This chapter presents the numerous financial models that have been devised to simulate the market. It also discusses features of these markets, namely efficiency, disinformation, noise, fads, and bubbles.

5- Renegades: This chapter discusses in detail the Keynesian view of the markets, as well as those of Marx.

6- Governance: This chapter is about Corporate Governance, with a section on the relation of Wall Street and the government.

7- What is (not) to be done?: This last chapter includes the author's thoughts on a number of economic issues such as social security, the Fed, investing socially, taxation, corporate transformation.

The breadth of topics discussed within this book is commendable, backed by a plethora of references for further reading in areas of interest. Chapters 1 and 2, serve as a great introduction and primer on the financial markets. The insight, stories and practical example presented make this book accessible. A final, and important comment to keep in mind, is that the author presents the content of the book (particularly the later chapters) from a leftist perspective.
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17 of 33 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 7, 2000
This is a cut above the usual leftist whining about the horrors of capitalism. Henwood at least understands American high finance and has many pithy things to say about them, some of them all too true. He is quite right in sensing that all is not well with Wall Street and the stock market. Where he falls short is in his theoretical grasp of the situation. Here his left-wing bias, which gives him such a sharp eye when it comes to seeing institutional problems with Wall Street, leads him astray in bringing perspective to his institutional insights. Like the academic economists he excoriates, he does not fully understand how credit excess has completely distorted financial markets and made them much less efficient than they otherwise would have been. To be sure, he is right to say that markets are not 100% efficient. Markets merely give indications of whether past market decisions have been well informed or not.
I cannot help mentioning one troublesome little point about Henwood's analysis: while Henwood is correct to insist that Wall Street and corporate capitalism in general do not allocate capital as efficiently as an omniscient critic, with the benefit of hindsight, would, this does not mean that capital could be allocated more efficiently if we adopted another system or simply abolished the stock market altogether. The problem is, what is the alternative? To date, no one has yet demonstrated that there is a workable alternative that allocates capital better than capitalism.
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