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Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World Paperback – January 10, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[The] definitive account of the most profitable and influential investment bank of the modern era.” —The New York Times Book Review

“The best analysis yet of Goldman’s increasingly tangled web of conflicts. . . . The writing is crisp and the research meticulous.” —The Economist

“[A] revelatory account of the rise and rise of Goldman Sachs. . . . A vast trove of material.” —Financial Times
 
“Well done and absorbing. Cohan’s grasp of the . . . recent inside politics of the firm is sure and convincing.” —The Washington Post

“The frankest, most detailed, most human assessment of the bank to date. Cohan portrays a firm that has grown so large and hungry that it's no longer long-term greedy but short-term vicious. And that’s the wonder—and horror—of Goldman Sachs.” —BusinessWeek

“Brings the bank’s sometimes ‘schizophrenic’ behavior to vivid life. . . . Cohan evinces an eye for telling images and an ear for deadpan quotations. . . . [and] puts his skepticism to good use.” —Bloomberg News
 
“[Cohan is] one of our most able financial journalists.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“A former Wall Street man and a talented writer, [Cohan] has the rare gift not only of understanding the fiendishly complicated goings-on, but also of being able to explain them in terms the lay reader can grasp.” —The Observer (London)
 
“Cohan writes with an insider’s knowledge of the workings of Wall Street, a reporter’s investigative instincts and a natural storyteller’s narrative command.” —The New York Times

About the Author

William D. Cohan is the author of the New York Times bestsellers House of Cards and The Last Tycoons, which won the 2007 FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has a weekly opinion column in Bloomberg View, and writes frequently for Fortune, The Atlantic, Art News, BloombergBusinessWeek, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Irish Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. He also is a contributing editor on Bloomberg Television and a frequent on-air contributor to MSNBC, CNN and CNBC. A former investment banker, Cohan is a graduate of Duke University, Columbia University School of Journalism and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767928261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767928267
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Srikumar S. Rao VINE VOICE on April 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his now famous - infamous? - Rolling Stone article Matt Taibbi refers to Goldman Sachs as a "...great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money." Cohan,whose earlier books gave you the inside scoop on Lazard Freres and Bear Stearns now turns his searchlight on Goldman Sachs, arguably one of the most powerful financial institutions that ever existed.

It is not really a Goldman "bashing" book but there is plenty of hard reporting that lead one to wonder how Goldman can get away with proclaiming itself to be a temple of team play and a firm where customer interests always come first. Team playing culture? Cohan gives you details about the unusually sharp knives that came out frequently in succession struggles from earlier days - Gus Levy clashing with Sid Weinberg - to more recent events - Hank Paulson ousting Jon Corzine - and paint a picture quite at variance with Goldman PR.

Customer comes first? Cohan reveals that way back in the sixties Goldman was sued for "...fraud, deception, concealment, suppression and false pretense..." in connection with the Penn Central fiasco. Creditors claimed that Goldman "...made promises and representations as to the future (of the company) which were beyond reasonable expectations and unwarranted by existing circumstances." You make up your mind about whether this was a disgruntled customer trying to splash mud or a depiction of Goldman's approach. It certainly was a harbinger of later developments such as the firms disingenuous statement that it was not "betting against its customers" during the sub-prime crisis but merely and prudently managing its risk profile. If you believe that may I interest you in a solid gold brick I found on Fifth Avenue the other day?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every now and then, someone comes along and writes a book, and in the process lays out a new framework of understanding with such exquisite detail that the average reader's generalized understanding of how the world works is blown away, and a new understanding becomes the norm. This is EXACTLY what author William Cohan has achieved with "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World."

Such a book was Carroll Quigley's "Tragedy and Hope". Quigley understood how the world worked and the dark forces that can exert undue enormous power behind the scenes. President Clinton in his inauguration speech specifically mentioned the power that Carroll Quigley had over him when he was student at Georgetown and Quigley lectured about those who truly control the world. Clinton understood the power structure, and their assumed ruthlessness, and was forever changed by it. Now we have in Cohan's book the thorough exposure of the less seemly side of Goldman Sachs.

Today there are only two firms that have the cache value to make an MBA's dream of working for them. They are Goldman Sach's in the financial world and McKinsey & Company in management consulting. If you work for either entity, it is the equivalent of having a halo over your head. You are anointed. Goldman Sachs now stands alone as the ultimate financial wheeler dealer in our time. With 35,000 employees, they still manage to be able to cut and slash like an institution a tenth of their current size.

Being a former alumnus of both Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, and currently managing several billions of dollars of private money, I have always had the utmost respect for Goldman. I believed then as now that only Goldman could possibly have been better run than either Bear or Lehman.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read a variety of books recently about the current financial crisis, the Great Depression, and other crises of late 19th century and 20th century. This is a reasonable addition to that list. The details on the founding of GS, it's impacts over the years on important historical events: Penn Central, LTCM, Bear Sterns, Lehman, AIG, are all very interesting and enlightening. I was quite surprised to learn many of these details.

I also appreciated the author's relatively objective tone. I came into this book with no particularly strong opinion about whether GS is evil or not and this book didn't really change my mind. However, this book does paint a strong picture of an organization with a lot of conflicts of interest. Given that most of their clients are generally other sophisticated organizations: other financial institutions, large corporations, etc, I find myself surprised that these clients continue to do business with them.

The stories about the various players of the years from Marcus Goldman through Waddill Catching and Sydney Weinberg up to the present day players in Jon Corzine, Henry Paulson, and Lloyd Blankfein are all interesting, to a point. I found many of these mini autobiographies to be way too long & tedious. This book is 600 pages long and I think could have been a much better book at maybe 400 or 450 pages.

That said, if you tackle this book, the payoffs come later. Skim some of biographies and you'll be rewarded with interesting details about GS's involvement the Penn Central crisis, the LTCM crisis, and how GS had concluded that a mortgage meltdown was coming way ahead of a lot of other players and took actions to both protect themselves and profit from it.
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