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am 18. Februar 2003
Liar's Poker gehört heute sich zu den "Top 5" Wall Street Bücher, die es für Geld zu kaufen gibt. Während meiner Ausbildung in New York bei einer Investment Bank, wurde an uns herangetragen folgende 3 Bücher zu lesen: 1.) Barbarians at the Gate, 2.) Den of Thieves und 3.) Liar's Poker.
Wie die meisten Zuhörer bin auch ich losgezogen und habe sie alle Drei innerhalb von Tagen verschlungen....
Zu Liar's Poker:
Michael Lewis beschreibt in Liar's Poker das Leben eines "Junior" Bond und Mortgage Traders, der sich bei Salomon Brothers durch die Repressalien seiner Kollegen kämpft. Besonders an Liar's Poker ist, dass es das Leben an der Wall Street in den 80iger Jahren wiedergibt, einer Zeit, wo Investment Banking (im Vergleich zum Trading) eher Unterentwickelt war und die "Trader" die Könige der Wall Street waren (mit astronomisch hohen Bonuszahlungen). Lewis beschreibt Salomon und das Leben bei einem Wall Street "Powerhouse" mit einem Hang zum Detail, der besser nicht sein könnte. Ebenfalls bekommt der Leser ein Verständnis für die Unternehmenskultur beim amerikanischen Brokerhaus.
Fazit:
Liar's Poker ist ein Wall Street Klassiker der jeder, der mit Investment Banking oder Trading zu tun hat, gelesen haben sollte. Wer sich für Corporate America in den letzten Jahrzehnten interessiert kommt auch an diversen anderen Klassikern wie "Taken for a Ride. How Daimler-Benz Drove Off With Chrysler" (Bill Vlasic & Bradley A. Stertz), "Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco" (Bryan Burrough & John Helyar), "Goldman Sachs: Culture of Success" (Lisa Endlich), "Den of Thieves" (James Brewer Stewart) oder aber "Liar's Poker" nicht vorbei.
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am 26. Juni 1999
After working for two years (going on my third before I graduate) in trading as an intern in college, I finally came around to read this wicked and funny book. It really gave me a new perspective on my experiences and an education on how the business evolved. Do not believe all you read- traders are more civilized nowadays. They don't swing phone handsets at trainees lke myself, nor they have food frenzies every Friday and are generally better educated and a bit more refined than what Lewis depicts them to be. However, this book really tells the insider's view of the trading world from spotting "Big Swingin Dicks" (and "Dickettes")to the trading floor culture to unwritten rules and codes that can make or break a new trainee. A very fast and enjoyable read recomended for all finance students and soon to be traders like myself.($$$$$$$$)
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am 16. Januar 1999
As an analyst on Wall Street (yes, I do make a lot of copies) I must confess this was insightful reading even for me. If you want to work on Wall Street or you want to know what your broker really thinks of you, read this book. But to update the epilogue a bit, I temped at Salomon in 7 World Trade while waiting for my current job to begin. Much has changed. Real efforts have been made to combat the sexism in the system, though far more than mere vestiges remain. Each morning in the final months of the merger with Smith Barney pink slips were handed out and the process was very judiciously calculated. The pall of this book hung over each lay off. So be assured, if you have not read Liar's Poker, you are not culturally literate on Wall Street.
One final word: The Market is Efficient! Only the investment banks made money on the buyouts of the 80s. With Liar's Poker in one hand and A Random Walk Down Wall Street in the other, you'll have the basic insights to manage your relationship with both your broker and the market.
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am 21. Dezember 2003
Unlike (nearly all, or all) academic economics books, which 'explain' that arbitrage does not and cannot exist, Lewis explains to us how the big bond houses live from arbitrage (buying low from the government or somewhere else and selling a bit higher to you and me). The book is a rare, a highly entertaining and very informative jewel: Lewis rightfully and poetically calls brokerage houses 'full servive casinos', far better than Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Not only will they accept and place your bets, they'll also lend you (a large fraction of) the money needed to place your bets (margin)! A very good book to read now (1/27/00) during the 'wild ride' before the present big market bubble goes: POP!
Unfortunately, Lewis tells us too litlte about Meriwether, who later seduced two of the top finance academics (they were willing) and, with their aid, constructed the huge, uncontrolled experiment in 'equilibrium theory' called 'Long Term Capital Management' (LTCM). Their philosophy, also believed uncritically by most working economists, was and likely still is: Equilibrium will prevail (even in the absence of restoring forces!). For the continuation of the story where Liar's poker leaves off ('portfolio insurance', arbitrage and more arbitrage, and the formation and collapse of the bubble called LTCM), see the new book "Inventing Money".
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am 25. August 2008
More than ever there is meaning to this story. The author gives us an insider's view of the very first days of mortgage securitization. It is difficult not to be taken aback about how this market was originally designed to match the interests of the few who initiated it. At the time, the technical advance in the Fixed Income area of the S bros such that they could trick the Federal decision taker in whatever advantaged them. Only an insider could give such a microscopic description of greed and excess but also how financial innovation occurs to a young salesperson. And only an insider could point out the precise point when the decline started, up to the consequences we know now.
What is funny though is that figures will look quite modest to anyone familiar with finance today. I learned a lot reading this book which was given to me when I was a trainee in fixed income; however it really puts aside the genuine value added that financial industry has once striped of excesses, moral hazard.
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am 6. September 1999
This book is interesting and still timely for a number of reasons. Michael Lewis was not hired by Salomon Brothers by going through the usual channels. That is, he didn't just send in his CV and go through a series of interviews. He did have or was finishing his master's degree at LSE and that would ordinarily be considered very competitive. But the details are quite intriguing. There are also several pages dealing with John Meriwether of Long-Term Capital fame. Meriwether, of course, directed the largest financial collapse in history, and he was trained at Salomon as were many other of these infamous bond traders. Its evidently no longer true that "Hedge funds are very strongly regulated by those (the banks) who lend the money" (see the article on Alan Greenspan in BusinessWeek, 12 Oct. 98)! Or has the FED always been in front of the eight ball? You would think that Frank Partnoy (FIASCO) would REALLY be upset with this idea rather than fuming about a zero-sum game in which there is always a winner and a loser with fairly normal contracts. I can't think of a worse case nuclear-waste derivative than 80:1 margin with long and short positions on every possible bond, CMO, and currency in the world all controlled by an arrogant hedge fund manager. This unheard of leverage could only be done by dozens of banks loaning out money on collateral that was already used to procure a loan across the street. Where was Frank when this was going on? Morgan Stanley was not even involved directly with LTCM, and perhaps that explains Frank's silence. Even to this day those at LTCM have a mantra that goes like "You know the model worked really well except for this tiny little problem", and that phrase is usually followed by "You don't understand (we are just too smart for you), all that was wrong was a tiny bit of bad timing and not quite enough leverage". Yes, a little tiny non convergence in interest rates did all that damage, and you boys and girls should be in jail. No retail broker would ever do anything like that. My answer to all this is that if you have spent 15 min studying the Black-Scholes equation and geometric Brownian motion of stock prices, you have wasted more than 14 min of your time. Lets hear from Frank. I think what I found most interesting in Liar's Poker was Mr. Lewis's detailed explanation of the development of the mortgage security market at Salomon Brothers. This info is not readily available, and I have no reason to doubt Mr. Lewis's account. If Salomon was the top investment bank when this book was written, times have certainly changed, because they are not even among the top three investment banks today.
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am 30. Juli 1996
**** I read this book in my last undergraduate year of college.
At that time, Lewis provided me with an eye-opening, first-hand glance of
life in the high-flying world of finance (1980's) and the personalities
that drove that period forward. It was relevant reading material since I
was intending to pursue a career in the financial services industry, and
here was a book written by a former bond salesman in the New York and
London offices of Salomon Brothers.

**** Nevertheless, this book is not limited to only those interested or involved in the world
of business. This book is for anybody who is curious how the S&L crisis emerged; how the Reagan
administration's deregulations affected the salaries of a select few in the US financial industry;
how much the tax burden of the average American citizen grew as a result. This book is perfect
for those who dislike the dry writing found in historical textbooks.

**** Lewis's anecdotes will leave you in stitches! I am now working in the
financial services industry. Most of the people I run into seem to have read this book at an earlier age
and most enjoyed it as much as I did.

**NOTE** Other "financial history" books that could be compared
to "Liar's Poker", but written with very different writing
styles:

"Merchants of Debt" by George Anders;
"Barbarians at the Gate".
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am 27. Januar 2000
Unlike (nearly all, or all) academic economics books, which 'explain' that arbitrage does not and cannot exist, Lewis explains to us how the big bond houses live from arbitrage (buying low from the government or somewhere else and selling a bit higher to you and me). The book is a rare, a highly entertaining and very informative jewel: Lewis rightfully and poetically calls brokerage houses 'full servive casinos', far better than Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Not only will they accept and place your bets, they'll also lend you (a large fraction of) the money needed to place your bets (margin)! A very good book to read now (1/27/00) during the 'wild ride' before the present big market bubble goes: POP!
Unfortunately, Lewis tells us too litlte about Meriwether, who later seduced two of the top finance academics (they were willing) and, with their aid, constructed the huge, uncontrolled experiment in 'equilibrium theory' called 'Long Term Capital Management' (LTCM). Their philosophy, also believed uncritically by most working economists, was and likely still is: Equilibrium will prevail (even in the absence of restoring forces!). For the continuation of the story where Liar's poker leaves off ('portfolio insurance', arbitrage and more arbitrage, and the formation and collapse of the bubble called LTCM), see the new book "Inventing Money".
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am 31. März 1999
I am told that the average tenure of a new investment banking recruit is under three years. This is mainly because they are worn our and weary. Apparently, an eighty hour week is considered a short week and anything less than showing up in the office six days a week means that you are not committed to your job. This never sounded like an attractive profession to me. I strongly suggest that if you are thinking about entering the investment banking world, or just thinking about investing, you should read LIAR'S POKER. What drives this industry to hyper-activity? Part of the answer must be that that is the way trades are made and business is done - or always has been. It's The Tradition Stall from THE 2,000 PERCENT SOLUTION, by Mitchell, Coles and Metz. The industry also suffers from The Bureaucracy Stall - lots of inefficient policies and rules, and The Communications Stall - They don't really all get the same information at the same time. Perhaps, by replacing the bad habits of investment bankers with new good habits based on totally rethinking the way this business is done (see Mitchell's Eight-Step process), they would earn more and have more fun. Now that's a 2,000 percent solution! (Solving a problem is a 100% solution. Achieving 20 times those benefits or getting there 20 times as fast, equals 2000 percent.)
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am 14. Februar 1999
Almost everyone who is young is tempted by the large bonuses to wonder what it would be like to work in a large investment bank on Wall Street. The reality is far different from what you might think it is. LIAR'S POKER provides an irreverant, outsider's look at the whole process. For example, many people think all of the money comes from enormous investment banking fees, but for the majority of the Street's banks, trading is where the real money is made . . . and lost. There are trading strategies that work only for the largest pools of capital (because statistical probability is most likely to work in such cases), and the investment banks take full advantage of that edge. There are few romantics on Wall Street, and one of the best ways to make money is to dump bad paper on weak investors and the uninitiated. CAVEAT EMPTOR really applies to investing, because you are dealing with greedy sharks in many cases (even if they do have yachts and penthouses). Before even considering an internship on Wall Street, be sure to read this book. Undoubtedly circumstances have changed in the banks, but the basic psychology is probably the same. Also, I find it to be funnier to read about something real rather than to read a novel like BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, which can be too easily dismisssed as fiction.
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