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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Liars Poker

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there are my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence comes in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure. And here is our Number 1 favourite finance book.

No 1 – Liars Poker – Mike Lewis

Liars Poker is the autobiographical tale of a young Michael Lewis, a graduate trainee for Salomon Brothers merchant bank in Wall Street and London in the mid 1980’s.
Lewis takes us through his training programme at Salomon and eventually onto the Bond trading desks in London, giving us insight into the corporate culture of get rich at all costs and the now infamous characters that dominated life at Salomon.

The title “Liars Poker” comes from a game of bluff that the traders  used to play with each other with stakes raised higher as you went through the ranks, culminating in a legendary game played for $10m between John Gutfreund (chairman of Salomon Brothers) and John Meriwether (bond trader).

When Gutfreund challenged Meriwether to “One million dollars. No tears”,  Meriwether famously replied replied,  “No, I’d rather play for real money. Ten million dollars. No Tears!”

A truly fascinating rollercoaster read of life in the city in the mid 80’s and a clear winner for our number 1 best financial expose.

“From mere trainee to lowly geek, to triumphal Big Swinging Dick.
That was Michael Lewis’ pell-mell progress through the dealing rooms of Salomon Brothers in New York and London during the heady mid-1980s when they were probably the world’s most powerful and profitable merchant bank.
A true-life Bonfire of the Vanities, funny, frightening, breathless and heartless, his is a tale of hysterical greed and ambition set in an obsessed, enclosed world.”

Bookkeeper HarlowTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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When Genius Failed

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there is my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence comes in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure. These are my favourite type of books – read on for the countdown from number 10 to number 1.

No 2 – When Genius Failed – Roger Lowenstein

Long Term Capital Management was a quite unique firm that started in 1994. Formed by a small group of elite partners from both the trading and academic world, they were able to raise $1bn start-up capital. The firm managed to generate $1.4 billion dollars profit in the first two years and subsequently increased its funds under management to over $140bn. This was a truly unique firm in that they had millionaire customers queuing up to be considered as acceptable investors, despite the partners insisting on taking a 40% cut in any profits earned.

The business model of LTCM was that they would use their superior intellect and computer models to earn a tiny margin on thousands of trades with virtually no risks. And for a while it was incredibly successful. But then came 1998 when it all began to go horribly wrong.

Roger Lowenstein’s writing gives a fascinating insight into the success of LTCM, the intellects and egos of their nobel prize winning partners, how it all went horribly wrong and how one small bank brought the US banking system into crisis.

Highly recommended and reaching number 2 on our top 10 list.

“A group of elite investors who called themselves “Long Term Capital Management” believed they could beat the market and like alchemists, create limitless wealth for themselves and their partners.
In fact, they created a trillion dollar hole in the international banking system.
It’s a tale of vivid characters, overweening ambition and perilous drama told, in Roger Lowensten’s hands, with brilliant style and panache”

Bookkeeper RomfordTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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Extreme Money

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there is my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence comes in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure.
These are my favourite type of books – read on for the countdown from number 10 to number 1.

No 3 – Extreme Money – Satyajit Das

Author Satyajit Das (or Das as he is known) is without doubt one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent men in modern finance, yet with a talent for taking some very complex ideas and being able to explain them in a clear and concise manner.

He manages to write in an entertaining style and despite Extreme Money being a lengthy read,  if you wish to gain an thorough understanding of modern finance and financial engineering then this is a great place to start.

Das is a popular guest on the weekly finance podcast – “The Disciplined Investor with Andrew Horowitz” which can be found on Itunes and his blog at economonitor.com  is always a great read.

This can be found at ;

http://www.economonitor.com/blog/author/sdas3/

                       

“Once upon a time, human society built things.
We engineered beautiful objects and created authentic goods.
Now this real industrial engineering has been replaced by financial engineering: shuffling money in an endless process of debt, trading and speculation.
It’s enabled vast fortunes to be made for a few, whilst the risk was carried by ordinary people –
the ‘privatisation of gain’ and ‘socialisation of losses’

Extreme money tells the story of spectacular and dangerous money games and those elite bankers, traders and financiers, the so called ‘Masters of the Universe’, who continue to play them.
Written by an insider, Extreme Money will show you how, little by little, we’ve all become slaved to financial alchemy and have been enchanted by our own illusory creation” the cult of global finance”

Bestselling author Satyajit Das draws on 33 years of personal experience at the heart of modern global finance to narrate this story.
Das reveals the spectacular, dangerous money games that have generated increasingly massive bubbles of fake growth,
Ponzi prosperity, sophistication, and wealth—while endangering the jobs, possessions, and futures of virtually everyone outside the financial industry.
Das shows how “extreme money” has become ever more unreal; how “voodoo banking” continues to generate massive phony profits even now;
and how a new generation of “Masters of the Universe” have come to dominate the world.

Bookkeeper OngarTransform Accounting – Ongar Accountant

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All That Glitters

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there is my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence comes in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure.
These are my favourite type of books – read on for the countdown from number 10 to number 1.

No 4 – All that Glitters – The Fall of Bearings – John Gapper and Nicholas Denton

Authors John Gapper and Nicholas Denton were both journalists working for London’s Financial Times newspaper at the time of the collapse of Barings – Britains oldest merchant bank, brought about by “Rogue Trader” Nick Leeson.

“All that Glitters” is a comprehensive account of the history of Barings bank and its collapse.

It delivers great insight into the history, formation and changes in the company and the characters who played a key role in the development of the bank.

By taking this route, the authors give us a fasciniating insight into the political power struggles and clashing relationships at board level at the time of its demise.

Poor management control at the most senior level left the bank vulnerable and when the small futures trading team, led by Nick Leeson in Singapore incurred huge losses, this resulted in the total collapse of Barings.

Whilst a book that goes into great detail about the collapse could have the potential to be a difficult read, the journalistic writing style of the authors maintains a fascinating and entertaining read – highly recommended.

 

“When a single ‘rogue trader’ brought down Barings, Britain’s oldest merchant bank,
it was two Financial Times journalists who discovered crucial details about Nick Leeson’s secret account and the rescue talks with the Sultan of Brunai.
In this superb book they tell the full story.

Even in the 1980s, the cosy patrician clique at Barking Brothers could not control Barking Securities,
where young and thrusting children of the Thatcher revolution were storming into new markets and generating unprecedented profits.

Communication and lines of accountability eventually became so confused that directors earning huge bonuses blindly transferred £700 million into Leeson’s black hole.

This vivid narrative cuts through the strange jargon of straddles and strangles, “rocket scientists” and “gamma geeks”,

to uncover vicious power struggles, towering egos and monumental incompetence.”

Epping Accountant Transform AccountingThe Accountants in Essex

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Enron - Anatomy Of Greed

We all love a top 10 list.

When it comes to finance, books come in three distinct categories.

Accounting Text books – avoid like the plague!

Firstly the long often dry and tedious text books that sometimes have to be studied to gain professional qualifications – I would advise steering well clear of these and leaving them to the accountants and lawyers who have to study them!

Personal Finance Self Help Books

Secondly, there are the personal finance self-help type books that try to teach you something as quickly as possible – there are many of these but if in doubt, the dummies books are always a good place to start.

The Exposé

And finally there are my favourite category – the exposé – a book that relies on research and investigative journalism to give you the inside story.
This is where the crime, corruption and incompetence come in, with a little greed thrown in for good measure.
These are my favourite type of books – read on for the countdown from number 10 to number 1.

Recommendation No 5 – Enron – Anatomy of Greed – Brian Cruver

Enron – the Texas based Energy company was one of the biggest business and accounting scandals in US history. Enron went from being one the biggest business success stories in the last 30 years into bankruptcy and jail for senior staff members. It is also considered to be the biggest audit failure in recent history and resulted in the dissolution of Enron’s auditors and accountants Arthur Anderson – previously the 5th largest global accountancy firm.

“Enron – Anatomy of Greed” is written by an insider – Brian Cruver – a graduate trainee recruited into Enron just before things started to go wrong. He gives a fascinating insight into just what it was like to work for Enron, and how this changed when the story of their corruption began to break and then developed into eventual bankruptcy.  The human side of an employee in this situation is what is so fascinating as well as the background he gives us as to the cause of the Enron collapse – highly recommended.

“Brian Cruver was a first-hand witness to the disturbing, surreal and hilarious moments of Enron’s long dance with death.
When he first entered Enron’s office complex, ‘the Death Star’, he was the epitome of the classic Enron employee:
young, brash, obscenely overpaid and sporting a brand-new MBA.
From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn’t really wanted to see him hired,
he found himself in the middle of a venal greed machine whose story unfolded with Kafka-esque absurdity and frustration.

Anatomy of Greed examines the accounting tricks, the insider stock trades –
and in a special section, how the grossly lucrative fraudulent partnerships were structured and funded – as well as everyday life as an Enronian.

Working at Enron meant cocky wheeling and dealing, parties on the trade floor, casual conversations at the shredder
and the insidious group- think that made Enron employees unquestioningly accept propaganda spoon-fed to them by Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

A portrait of the author as a young Enronian, Anatomy of Greed reveals the sting of reality, humility and pain felt by a man whose idols turned out to be fools and scoundrels and who learned that there is more to life than stock options. “

Chartered Management Accountant ChelmsfordTransform AccountingChartered Management Accountant Essex

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