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Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager Paperback – June 22, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Expanding on a 2007 interview in the literary magazine n+1, editor and interviewer Gessen draws together two years' worth of interviews with a despairing anonymous hedge fund manager. HFM, as Gessen calls him, didn't go to business school or major in economics, but has been working successfully in hedge funds for over a decade. With some context provided by Gessen, HFM schools readers in the stories behind the death of Bear Stearns, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the plunging dollar, the bailouts, the Madoff scandal, and, finally, the upswing. Though it's interesting to have a personal take on the tumultuous past two years—and HFM ends the interviews when the stress finally drives him to take a semisabbatical—the decision to tell this story in an interview format is tricky and ultimately unsuccessful; the choppy transcription format distances readers from the ideas at hand, and the points lose their punch. Fans of the original article will find this expansion compelling, but other readers curious about the factors behind the crash will do better elsewhere. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This book is a series of interviews with an anonymous hedge-fund manager (HFM) by the co-editor of a literary magazine (who admits to being ill-informed on finance); he sets out to understand what is happening on Wall Street. The HFM offers a brilliant financial professional's view of the economic situation in real time, from September 2007, when problems in financial markets began to surface, until late summer 2009, when the financial meltdown generally subsided and the financial community went back, in HFM's view, to business as usual. With definitions of financial terms and products, and explanations of domestic and global issues as they occur, HFM draws from his decade of nonstop work as a hedge-fund manager to educate the interviewer and us as the financial crisis unfolds. This is a great read. The interviews are edited in a readily understandable manner and will provide a thoughtful perspective for a wide range of library patrons who want to learn about the recent financial debacle. --Mary Whaley
Top customer reviews
If you're looking for an accessible overview of the financial crisis in readable prose, this is a good choice. If you're looking for something deeper, however, this will disappoint. For example, the HFM never quite explains why the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn't do more to stabilize the economy. Due to the interview format, the timeline of events is presented in a muddled, confusing way. I couldn't quite map out the sequence of events very well. (For a more detailed--but lacking meaningful explanations--account, "Too Big to Fail" is a better bet).
Moreover, it's important to remember that this is coming from a hedge fund manager. In addition to having no real inside knowledge of what was happening behind the scenes, the HFM seemed a bit too self-conscious of the fact that he was being published in a literary magazine. At one point early in the interview sequence, he assured people that "everything would be okay." He later admitted that he was saying that to quell any fears among the readership.
That makes you wonder how honest and blunt this guy was during the interview.
A must read, this book ranks as high as "The Quants", "Pit Bull" and "Market Wizards" for me, all three books I thoroughly enjoyed reading. You will gain rare insights into the mind/workings of a successful and relatively conservative (compared to his peers) hedge fund manager, Wall Street risk takers (with OPM other people's money), the Fed and Treasury's crisis management modus operandi.
Gessen provides a good structure and makes the book easily accessible to non-financial readers without compromising on content and accuracy (I work as an equity derivatives trader and I found myself continually learning a lot)
HFM does the rest.
Most recent customer reviews
But if I'm wrong and you can, that would make it my favorite book on the crisis.Read more