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Backstage Wall Street: An Insider's Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments Hardcover – March 27, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I have long wanted to see a book that would teach ordinary investors how to avoid being cheated by those that create/sell financial products. If this book isn't it, the one that surpasses it will be astounding. If Wall Street is a show, this book gives you a peek behind the curtain." -- David Merkel "SeekingAlpha"

"I have long referred to the author of Backstage Wall Street as "Downtown" Josh Brown because he is no "Uptown Guy." Rather, he is irreverent, unorthodox and iconoclastic.The pages of his new book are filled with colorful exposes of misconduct in the way Wall Street presents and sells itself (and it's financial products offerings!).

Josh's anecdotes - like his description of the audience's reaction to Piper Jaffrey analyst Nicole Miller Regan's questions at a Jamba Juice's analyst day - are priceless.

(With apologies to Billy Joel) if you have "never met a backstreet guy..".. run, don't walk to read the Downtown Man's chronicles of deception from those wonderful folks on Wall Street that nearly bankrupted the world's financial system a few short years ago." -- Doug Kass "TheStreet.com"

From the Back Cover

Sure to be a revelation to even the savviest financial professional, Backstage Wall Street is a brutally honest look at the investment business from a veteran who’s seen it all. “Reformed” Wall Street insider Joshua M. Brown offers clear and proven advice on how to navigate all the snares set by the lords of Wall Street.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 007178232X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071782326
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Merkel on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have long wanted to see a book that would teach ordinary investors how to avoid being cheated by those that create/sell financial products. If this book isn't it, the one that surpasses it will be astounding. If Wall Street is a show, this book gives you a peek behind the curtain.

This book is really four mini-books in one:

1) How the author became a broker, and the ethical difficulties that were forced on him in the process.

2) The difficulties faced by do-it-yourself investors, and the benefits of exchange-traded funds [ETFs].

3) On Brokerages, and all their conflicts of interest, culminating in the straight line pitch.

4) Investments to avoid, and advice from the wise.

That it is four in one is not a weakness but a strength. Wall Street has many ways to skin investors, and each section provides insights that different people will benefit from. It is a more comprehensive book in its short 240 pages as a result.

On Brokers

The first part of the book describes Wall Street as it was and is, with all of the players and their motives. Josh spares no one; the tone of the book is cynical, but not unduly so, noting all of the problems with a profane sense of humor. Some of the funniest bits of the book are recollections of conversations with greedy parties seeing an edge.

There is a certain level of despair for young brokers as they "cold call," knowing that if they don't succeed, they will be let go, but driven by the possibility of riches should they succeed. Those who are successful gain money, prestige, bragging rights, and some level of freedom from tight control.

I have my own experience with this.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry, but I didn't know who Josh Brown was before I was given a copy of this book to review, so I wasn't familiar with what he was all about. That is to say, I'd never read his popular blog (still haven't, even) and didn't know what to expect from this book. As I started reading and well towards the middle of the book, I kept telling myself this could only be a two star book. This guy's just telling a bunch stories from the trenches of Wall Street while not imparting any real, valuable information. He's certainly not providing anything to become a better investor. What gives? And it was about at the halfway point that he comes out and tells us: this isn't a book about investing.

When that was made clear, I was able to read the book objectively without wondering what it was going to do for me, and that made it a whole lot better. I began to appreciate Brown's insight into some of the inner workings of the "investment game" (my words) and how other people make money off of my money. I began to understand a lot of esoteric concepts related to fairly common things, such as IRA's, ETF's, 12b-1 fees, and so forth. Brown's experience and candor may not help you invest better, but what he has to say may still make you a better investor. How? By making you ask some questions - possibly of your broker, definitely of yourself - that will help you to have better investment judgment. It was certainly eye-opening seeing the world of stocks from a salesman/broker/sweat shop point of view, and the reading was, though not engrossing, at least enjoyable.

My two complaints about this book are minor. The first is that because Brown is a blogger, his writing for this book sounds a lot like a blog. That is, it is a bit disjointed and lacks a good flow and structure from chapter to chapter.
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Format: Hardcover
Having been involved in investment education and research for nearly 20 years, I think Josh has a timely, transparent message of hope. Seriously, the book is a little like Boiler Room meets Jerry Maguire and we can only hope for a pandemic moment of Outbreak.

Continuing on the cinematic theme, I've only read a few books in my lifetime in one sitting. One was Alien. Another was Babson's Brad Perry's tome "Winning The Investment Marathon" and Jurassic Park was a pretty enthralling read also. I can now add Backstage Wall Street to the list. I'm not sure which one was the most frightening, when I finished Alien I didn't want to turn out the lights.

Backstage is equally unsettling and Josh lays a foundation and history as he describes the "evolution" of Wall Street and the grinding of sausage. I actually think Josh Brown is part of a potential re-awakening of investing as it once was (or was at least intended to be) ... a people's capitalism with a potential outcome that would make Sigourney Weaver proud.

A rudimentary return to principled capital markets ... a New Reformation is clearly in order. If you've been investing for some time but harbor reservations about the way things are, this might be Chapter One of a new day. If you find investing terrifying when it comes to your 401(k), you might find some relief that there are some advocates and champions for the way things ought to be.

Is there hope? I think so. And I think Dustin Hoffman probably plays Josh in the movie, not Vin Diesel. For the sake of Rene Russo and millions of afflicted investors and citizens out there, reform at will.
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