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Exile on Wall Street: One Analyst's Fight to Save the Big Banks from Themselves Hardcover – November 15, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 

Review

Mike Mayo is an old-style bank analyst—thorough, independent, honest—who never pulls his punches, whatever icons, public or private, may be wounded."
Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

"Exile on Wall Street offers Wall Street's rarest commodity: the truth about our nation's largest banks and how they almost toppled capitalism. If you want to know the sickening truth about the largest banks, read Mike Mayo's exposé."
Harry Markopolos, author of No One Would Listen

"Mike Mayo is one of the best financial analysts on Wall Street. He brings clarity to a world full of uncertainty."
Maria Bartiromo, leading financial commentator

“Mike has long advocated for the investor. If only directors of business corporations with the legal and moral obligation to their shareholder base would emulate his diligence on their behalf, then good corporate governance would be restored. Every public company director ought read his book!”
—Thomas Garrott, ex-CEO of National Commerce bank and an ex-director of SunTrust

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118115465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118115466
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Merkel on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Why do you do what you do? Do you do it for money? Many do. Do you do it because you love it? Some get to do that. Do you do it because you think you have the truth, and want to make it known? Few do that.

Mike Mayo seems to be one who works for the latter two reasons, and that made him unusual on Wall Street. As an analyst of bank stocks on Wall Street, Mike Mayo was not always right, but he was right more often than not. He had a strong desire to tell what he saw to be the truth, which did not win him friends amid general overleverage in the banking sector (the banks lent too much).

Wall Street does not exist to make the buyers of the securities rich, rather, Wall Street exists to help companies get financing; the large profits of Wall Street come from the creation of stocks, bonds, and other securities to institutions and individuals.

There may be a question, though: if Wall Street does not exist to enrich the buyers of securities, then why do they employ analysts who try to point out value to potential buyers? Even today, it is because Wall Street wants to make money off of the underwriting of future securities. After all there is no money to be made in the secondary trading of ordinary securities anymore.

That is why the opinions of analysts still remain roughly 65% bullish, 30% neutral, and 5% bearish. Their posture reflects the way Wall Street positions itself for those they make money from: securities issuers, not securities buyers.

And similar to rating agencies, it has to be that way, because only the securities issuer has a concentrated interest in the issuance of a security, and for bonds, the rating.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exile on Wall Street is an easy reading introduction to the world of the (sell side) Wall Street analyst over the past twenty years, both for those starting out (or wanting to) in the business and for readers interested in a valuable `how the world really works' addition to their investment reading. I would not recommend it for industry professionals who are already all too familiar with the issues and challenges at hand.

As a risk manager and analyst who has been evaluating financial institutions for twenty years, I found the book a welcome addition to a wide body of work, from Liar's Poker and Barbarians at the Gates to The Big Short. On the other hand, I was hoping for a wider range of anecdotes and incidents supporting Mike's underlying thesis: how difficult their employer makes it for a sell side analyst to be professional and objective in evaluating a company for investors, especially where bad news is concerned. In particular the underlying revenue driven reasons why and the complexity and contradictions of the business model. As an internal cop who rarely had to bother with placating the management of companies I was analyzing my approach is more reflective of Steve Eisman's adage: Always assume they are lying to you.

Perhaps because of his early experience he describes working at the Fed, Mike has what I view as an overly evolved regard for regulators and the Fed. In particular, like a previous reviewer I would remind Mike that the Too Big To Fail doctrine was first established by the bailout of Continental Illinois in 1984, with the approval of then chairman Paul Volcker, a man some of us refer to as the General Grant of central bankers. It's not meant as a compliment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this autobiography / history of banking by Mike Mayo because of his recent fame as one of the few (maybe the only one) bank analysts who foresaw and tried to warn about the mortgage backed securities crisis. It was worth the money to purchase the book and the time to read it.

It is an easy read. The sentences flow smoothly from one to the next, and Mr. Mayo avoids overuse of banking vernacular that usually makes one's eyes glaze over. When he did, necessarily, introduce financial terms not commonly used by the public, he would provide analogies from sports and everyday life to explain them. Mr. Mayo, and his parents before him, have had interesting life experiences which he inserts periodically into this work. His modesty and self-effacing anecdotes are a welcome pleasure, as well.

If one wants to "get into the weeds" about the causes of the 2008 banking crises, this book is an excellent primer.

jav
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not a bad one, but delivered less than I expected.

Chapters which explain the 2008 crisis and afterwards make suggestions for future improvements in the industry do not contain anything different from what's already out there. The parts I liked the most were the biographical ones in the beginning of the book, from the Fed period to the first years as a sell-side analyst. Stories like the private jet trip with the bank's CEO are not surprising for somebody who works in the industry, but are really enjoyable to read, coming directly from the perspective of the analyst involved.

I would recommend this book for somebody who's curious about the way the financial industry really works and the 2008 events, but not for somebody who's already in the field and has professionally lived through the crisis.
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