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Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street Paperback – October 1, 1990
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It was interesting to see how the prestigious firms can treat their employees. At times there were generous bonuses for mid-level employees. At other times they were sidelined, encouraged to voluntarily depart by the lack of a bonus. Liar's Poker gives an impression of Wall Street as a place where lasting friendships are rarely formed. This is more a dog-eat-dog world than most.
As a book that informs about the functioning of the bond markets, it is useful. Lewis explained what went on behind the scenes to make certain bond markets (Treasuries) so incredibly liquid. This should bring comfort to Treasury investors. The book will make any other type of investor additionally nervous, I think.
I got it because of interest in the field and because I thought it would be similar to "Bringing Down the House" which was funny in parts and gave me an insight to the gambling world. Don't believe the dust jacket and publisher's reviews -- it is not animal house except for the extreme behavior of some.
You might like it. I'm still trying to finish it.
Here are a few excerpts I found poignant (Any emphasis is mine):
"The thrifts paid a fee to have their mortgages guaranteed. The shakier the loans, the larger the fee a thrift had to pay to get its mortgages stamped by one of the agencies. Once they were stamped, however, nobody cared about the quality of the loans. Defaulting homeowners became the government's problem. The principle underlying the programs was that these agencies could better assess and charge for credit quality than individual investors." P. 135
"Most of the time when markets move, no one has any idea why. A man who can tell a good story can make a good living as a broker. It was the job of people like me to make up reasons, to spin a plausible yarn. And it's amazing what people will believe." P. 231
"Risk, I had learned, was a commodity in itself. Risk could be canned and sold like tomatoes. Different investors place different prices on risk. If you are able, as it were, to buy risk from one investor cheaply and sell it to another investor dearly, you can make money without taking any risk yourself. And this is what we did." P. 232
"If social contribution had been the measure, I should have been billed rather than paid at the end of the year." Pp. 250-251.
You'll laugh, you'll cry - yet you cannot deny - Michael Lewis remains on of America's literary greats. Again, Liar's Poker is a "classic must-read!"