- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 18, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195115120
- ISBN-13: 978-0195115123
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,051,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wall Street: A History Hardcover – September 18, 1997
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The comprehensive Wall Street: A History, by Manhattan College finance professor Charles Geisst, is a meticulous examination of the economic cycles, legendary financiers, and monumental transactions that have shaped the fiscal structure of the United States. The sweeping tale ranges from Revolutionary War days to the California Gold Rush, from the Civil War to the Depression, and from the great 1950s bull market to the ongoing 1990s boom. Geisst's narrative is pinned to the relationship between finance and government, and tracks the latter's increasing involvement in the former to show where matters stand today.
From Library Journal
Geisst (finance, Manhattan Coll.) highlights the fluctuations of The Street during the past 200 years. From the beginnings in the 1790s, when auctioneers and dealers conducted curbside transactions, to the "merger mania" of the 1980s and 1990s, Geisst shows how events in our country affected Wall Street and how Wall Street deals influenced our country's history. We learn about the impact of the California Gold Rush and the Civil War on the banking and securities markets and how and why the ruthless dealings by the robber barons of the late 19th century and the stock market crash of 1929 unleashed a flurry of government regulations. The notes to the 11 chapters and the bibliography include a wealth of additional information and will be a useful starting point for further reading. Recommended for academic and public libraries.?Charles A. Skewis, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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One of the greatest parts of the book is that it lays out the many other factors affecting stock prices--derivatives, junk bonds, interest swaps, bond ratings, insider trading, short selling with options, and several more. If you think like I do you probably think in terms of fundamentals such as p/e ratio, earnings growth, volatility, gross sales and the like. The reality however is that there are many others using shorts, group buy/sell assaults, and rumor/fear mongering that have a greater near-term effect on stock movement than fundamentals that are disclosed less frequently than fundamentals. The net effect is they have a greater near-term force on the market.
The book starts out with the very beginnings of Wall Street and the exchange mechanisms developed when markets were in their true infancy stage. The author discusses the issues the early country faced with respect to a central monetary authority and how populist Jackson did not want financial control within the hands of an elite. An issue that pops up constantly in finance irrespective of era. The ability to control money supply is a power that was recognized extremely early as an extreme privilege by democrats that was a corrupting factor in the economy, simultaneously though not having a central money authorities left the economy at the whim of the psychology that led to cyclical abundance and scarcity of money which led to more frequent recessions. The view of banking and economics through the eyes of Wall street was very interesting. The author moves on to the early days of Vanderbilt, Jay Gould and Jay Cooke. The famous and infamous financiers of the mid 19th century all are colorful and the most early forms of mass distribution of securities and market manipulation are shown clearly by example by the author. The author discusses Vanderbilt as similar to Jay Gould as being an individual famous for cornering markets- having recently read a biography of Vanderbilt (The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt) there is definitely some material that would be up for debate but for a quick overview the material was interesting. After discussing the age of the Robber Barrons which essentially started with Vanderbilt the author moved on to the era of the money trust. The growing power of large industrial complexes is detailed with Carnegie and Rockefeller. The author discusses the monopoly power that was emerging from constant consolidation and economies of scale that was occurring. To counter the anti-trust legislation that was drafted the financial trust vehicles were conceptualized to circumvent the legislation. The author then discusses the concept of the money trust. The ideas that were so heavily important to Jackson resurfaced as the New York money center became so important for money circulation throughout the entire country. The importance of JP Morgan was highlighted and in general the unfair position of banks to control the money supply within the economy became a political issue that resurfaced continually especially in the face of episodic crashes. The evidence for collusion at times was scarce for there actually being a money trust but nonetheless the interconnectedness of financiers being on the boards of the most important businesses led to implicit evidence for preferential capital relationships. The author moves on to the twenties and the growth of financial services from brokerage to margin lending to global capital raising. The corruption of finance to making fast dollars is fairly clear through the detailing of this era and the author easily moves from the booming 20s into the tragic depression where the champions of the 20s become the target of society's derision. The author gives an interesting account of the depression, it definitely isn't only on Wall Street and discusses how bank failures were at the core of the failure of finance but weaves in how the failures in banks often stemmed from the corruption of the managers of banks who were speculating in the market. The author spends time on continuing battle to contain the excesses of Wall street from Glass Steagall up until 10 yrs after WWII. The author then spends a chapter on the first bull market in 30 yrs which started in the 50s and went on for over a decade as the economy came roaring back and inflation was relatively stable. He then moves on to the stagflation of the 70s and then details the bull market that resurfaced in the 80s that came about after inflation had been tamed with Volcker at the Fed. Along with discussing inflation the author gives a good overview of the junk bond markets as well as the m&a euphoria of the late 80s early 90s. The slow power shift of regulators to financiers can be seen to occur gradually and the incremental creep of securities houses and commercial banks into one another's core businesses is discussed. The author then goes in to the internet bubble and discusses the growing conflicts of interest between banking and brokerage and how problems associated with generating fees and honesty about the underlying businesses abound and were generally dealt with in favor of maximizing the banks profit.
All in all, Wall Street: A history is an interesting read that gives a history of finance in the US. Such a vantage point is very important to try to see from as whether we like it or not, finance is at the center of the system of financial capitalism that we live in. The oscillating political landscape as a function of the economic backdrop can be seen readily and despite it not being intentional, the response of the citizens to the excesses of the 20s is not too dissimilar to the politics of today post the financial crisis. The book needs better editing as there are passages that are literally repeated within a few pages every so often but all in all its an interesting read that reminds us that history rhymes.