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Zero-Sum Game: The Rise of the World's Largest Derivatives Exchange Hardcover – October 26, 2010
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--RICK SANTELLI, on-air editor, CNBC
"Commodities are now becoming more accessible to the public and will be more important than stocks in the future. Zero-Sum Game will help you understand the scene."
--JIM ROGERS, author of A Gift to My Children
"Zero-Sum Game is a positive-sum read. Olson provides an engaging tour of our largest derivatives exchanges, as well as the drama of an intense acquisition contest."
--STEVEN KAPLAN, Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
"A vivid and engaging account of one of the most important deals of the last decade."
--GUHAN SUBRAMANIAN, Professor, Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School
"Olson just painted the Sistine Chapel of LaSalle Street. Zero-Sum Game is a page-turning jolt of electricity--the perfect story to keep readers up all night."
--CRAIG T. BOUCHARD, co-founder, Esmark; co-author of America for Sale
From the Inside Flap
Olson delivers a blow-by-blow account of the fight for the world's oldest futures exchange, taking you inside CBOT's landmark Chicago Loop headquarters, past security guards, onto the high-octane trading floor, and into executives' offices. Along the way, she makes the inner workings of futures exchanges accessible by explaining what these institutions do, how futures contracts work, and who benefits from investing in derivatives. She also provides background and insight on the men in control of this powerful, tight-knit, and frequently misunderstood industry.
Zero-Sum Game is the incredible inside story of how the world's largest and most diverse exchange came to be, how the creation of CME Group forever altered the landscape of the financial services industry, and what it all means for the global economy . . . and you.
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Top Customer Reviews
Zero-Sum Game, a book about the merger between Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is an interesting read for industry veterans or those who are not part of the financial sector. I liked how Olson provided a quick overview/definition for each term, but then really focused on the fun/more interesting stuff which, again, really sets this book apart.
It is easy to follow, logically written, and kept me at the edge of my seat. I couldn't help feeling like I was along for the ride, as I followed Olson on her journey from her first interview at the Chicago Board of Trade through the day she looked back and noticed that the stature of Ceres appeared as though she was crying. Intricate and colorful character descriptions turn the main players alive and set a vivid stage for the reader.
Zero-Sum Game is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is candid, captivating and a definite page turner. I'm looking forward to Olson's next book.
Olson is a more than competent writer. However, throughout the book she made choices regarding the overall organization of the material, the level of details (was she *really* an insider, given her inexperience at CBOT compared to those of her compatriots) what to share (and not share) that began for me as a letdown that escalated into full-blown disappointment. I do not entirely fault Olson, as in the hands of a different editor, this could have been a much different read.
While many reviewers liked the detailed descriptions of the "players" in the book, it was too much for me--a few paragraphs with salient details would have easily sufficed. When an author devotes 2-4 pages of material on a person's upbringing, education, and personal life over and over again, you as a reader expect that person to play a subsequent, prominent role. This was only true part of the time. About halfway through, I started skipping the CV portion of the book.
A small quibble: this was a book promoted as having pop culture references liberally sprinkled throughout. It does not. It is a book about futures and derivatives and the battle between CBOT and the Merc. The only pop culture references were the names of each chapter--the same device that Olson uses in her blogging. Anyone thinking they're going to get a dose of pop culture in this book will be disappointed.
Although Olson was in management, she came across more as a witness to the action rather than a participant. While she chronicles myriad meetings, the "indepth" details--as well as her participation--are hazy. What was her role, other than to attend and get her marching orders? Her voice--literally--is missing.
Another thing that was absent was talk about herself - she gave so many of her characters the "CV treatment", why not give herself the same scrutiny. At the end of the book, it's not even clear what happened to Olson--did she leave because she was laid off, did she quit because she was burned out, or something else? With as much careful attention as she gave to everyone post CBOT merger, for me, this was a glaring omission.
She has the same superficiality when describing the various meetings. She gives the days of the meeting, sometimes the hours but never gets much past that. She'll say that there was 'tension'. Okay - why not tell us more about that? What were the dynamics of the tension. Who blew up at whom? Who shied away from conflict? It could have made for great theater.
Overall it appears that she got most of her information from discussion at the water-cooler and never really had the inside track on what was going on. And if she did, she wasn't able to translate that knowledge into a emotionally driven, tense and exciting read. Too bad.
Having witnessed the consolidation of this industry over the past 10 years, this book was a really timely book that caught my eye. I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. Clearly Olson had a take on this situation that was different than what a reporter might see -- She was inside the company! This book offers a once-in-a-lifetime peek into the underbelly of the securities industry that is a must-read for any Wall Street professional.
Well done Olson!