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Liars Poker [Hardcover]

Michael Lewis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 32.95
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Book Description

Nov. 1 1989
In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through the jungle of a powerful investment bank. In two short years he rose from trainee to a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

As described by Lewis, liar's poker is a game played in idle moments by workers on Wall Street, the objective of which is to reward trickery and deceit. With this as a metaphor, Lewis describes his four years with the Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers, from his bizarre hiring through the training program to his years as a successful bond trader. Lewis illustrates how economic decisions made at the national level changed securities markets and made bonds the most lucrative game on the Street. His description of the firm's personalities and of the events from 1984 through the crash of October 1987 are vivid and memorable. Readers of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities ( LJ 11/15/87) are likely to enjoy this personal memoir. BOMC and Fortune Book Club selection.
- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad . Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Lewis takes the reader through his schoolboy's progress as trainee and geek in the trading room, to high-powered swashbuckler. The author has a puckish appreciation for the comic. Yet he also has the knack of explaining precisely how complex deals really work. He provides the most readable explanation I've seen anywhere of the origin within Salomon Brothers of the mortgage-backed securities market....It is good history, and a good story. "

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IT WAS sometime early in 1986, the first year of the decline of my firm, Salomon Brothers. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for a finance novice too! June 21 2004
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book as it is highly popular among investment bankers. I am not an investment banker and do not intend to be one but I was keen to find out what makes Wall Street special. The book not only satisfied my curiosity but also was pleasantly amusing.
The author traces the glorious and gloomy times of Salomon Brothers, a big financial enterprise in which he worked long enough to be able to tell this tale and become a rich man. He explains some financial innovations of Salomon brother's in lay man's terms, which makes this book very readable for all.
The author's self-deprecating humor and his vivid analysis of the people he came across in his organization make the account entertaining.
Whether or not the author's opinions on technical matters in this book are meritorious-I am not qualified to say. If you are a finance novice and curious to find out about life in that universe, you will find this book worthwhile.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remember the Savings & Loans debacle? May 26 2004
Format:Paperback
This is the author's coming of age story, set in the world of investment banking in the 1980s. As a growth and wisdom book, it's pretty good, but it's really a non-fiction version of Tom Wolf's Bonfire of the Vanities. Of course what makes it interesting is that Michael Lewis came of age by successfully trading bonds for Solomon Brothers.
Among other aspects of the firm, LP describes Solomon's Mortgage Bonds department, its influence over the savings and loans, and the effect of Fed Chairman Paul Volker's 1981 decision to let interest rates float. Lewis does a brilliant job of explaining how this lead to S&L's selling their mortgages in order to fund investments in higher yield securities.
Here's the catch: Liar's Poker appeared before the S&L debacle but it laid out all the signs needed to predict the disaster to come.
Much of the hand wringing over S&Ls in the early 90's could maybe have been avoided if the warnings given in this book had been acted upon. To be fair, the warnings are clear but they are implicit. Lewis never actually projects the current state of the S&L industry into the future, even if he does mention that the basic problem with mortgages (short term funding of long term loans) is not solved.
Good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Wicked March 31 2013
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend the audio version read by Michael Lewis.

This is the funniest book ever written about trading. It is autobiographical, yet captures the atmosphere and the personalities of the era. The 1980's and 1990's were crazy years and Michael Lewis manages to take a snapshot in time.

An absolute classic...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read March 20 2011
By B.H
Format:Hardcover
It is an enjoyable read. It should be no surprise to people who have read other books by Michael Lewis, that he tells a story with humor and is just a great storyteller in general. Poker's Liar is another one of those books. Though sometimes I get the impression that he goes over the top or exaggerates in the language he uses in this book. All in all I would still recommend it, though I enjoyed "The Big Short" more, this one is still pretty good. The book takes you inside the organizational culture of an Investment Bank "Salomon Brothers", which Michael Lewis had worked, as a Bond Salesmen. The book is quite descriptive, interesting and really gives you a feel of what it is like to be a Bond trader or salesmen at that firm during the 1980s, however it is not very informative if you are looking to learn some Finance from reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Inside View Of Wallstreet June 8 2009
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I read this book back when it was a best seller. Lewis gives us a great insight into the world of Salomon Brothers. In the 1980s Salomon Brothers and their bond traders were at the top Wall Street. The head of Salomon, John Gutfreund was considered the King of Wall Street. John Meriwether the chief bond trader, was the master of the universe. Early in the book Gutfreund challenges Meriwether to a million dollar game of liar`s poker.You become instantly gripped, by what is happening at Salomon Brothers. The message that Lewis is trying to relay, is that Wall Street was growing into a monster. Years later, Meriwether was involved with a multi billion dollar failure at Long Term Capital Management.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
My expectations of this book were perhaps mislead. I thought that this would deal with more the generalized view of Wall Street. However, it really concentrates on the lives of traders.
Lewis does shed some light on Wall Street trading in general, including a good description of mortgage trading and junk bond trading. However, this book sort of throws it into the mix. I wasn't sure what Lewis was trying to do. Sometimes it felt like a history book, sometimes a biography, sometimes an economics lesson, sometimes a comedy. It felt haphazard and lacked direction, and with the writing style presented, it lacked a certain amount of fluidity.
It was fun to learn the different people in Wall Street. From the obese, abusive traders, the short sighted and greedy executives, the brown nosers, to the "back row" trainees. It's basically a fun little description of office life at Solomon Brothers in the eighties, not an exciting expose on the finance industry as the cover would like you to believe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An amusing memoir, no more Sept. 28 2002
Format:Paperback
While Lewis does a fine job as he writes a personal memoir of his time at Solomon Brothers in the mid-1980's, he soon loses focus of his main storyline. Lewis wanders off for three chapters to describe the creation of a home mortgage market and the personalities involved. It is as if Lewis or his editor suddenly decided that the amusing anecdotes of life on Wall Street were fine pulp, but needed to be framed in the context of historical substence in order for the book to be seen as respectable. (Ironically, Lewis's account of the rise to power of Michael Milken is more gripping, perhaps because Lewis was more directly affected by Milken's ambitions.) The evolution of equities as an investment is ignored almost completely, leaving the reader to wonder how, in the span of two years or so, the equities department of Solomon Brothers could go from "powerless" to surviving the layoffs started days before the crash of '87 to being the reason Solomon Brothers had its worst year in history. The author is inconsistent in his granting of pseudonyms or anonymity, naming a great many employees by name while protecting a chosen few. All in all, Liar's Poker is a quick, sometimes amusing account of Lewis's time at Solomon Brothers, but little more.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars things we all should know
we should all be aware of what went on, and what goes on in the financial markets, but who knew that it could be a page turner?
Published 1 month ago by Jen D
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Writer
Lewis has a captivating writing style. I have now read a couple of his books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by GearHead
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read for any market enthusiast
Lewis shows the ins and outs of a company at its peak and at its demise... Amazing read and turned out to be a real page turner. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Brendon Bigelli
5.0 out of 5 stars for sure a great read
Really great book a must read for all traders or wanna be traders.....you'll know if u still wanna be.....or is it just the money
Published 13 months ago by Ddog
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking under the covers at a Wall Street firm.
Michael gives the reader an inside look at one firm on Wall St. The story is not new: greed, power, money. It never changes. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars Different story about the financial street
I love Michael Lewis books. Well researched, well written with a touch of humor. All his books are a must
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Book About Wall Street
Care for an insight into the world of greedy Wall Street Investment Bankers of the 1980s? If the answer is yes, then this is definitely the book for you.
Published on June 22 2011 by S. Ghavami
4.0 out of 5 stars fun and hilarious
Lewis makes the world of Wall Street come alive in hilarious absurdity in this classic. Wears its age well in 2011, even though the book has been around 20+ years. Read more
Published on May 11 2011 by Rodge
5.0 out of 5 stars Liar's Poker
Very well written, easily one of the best books I have read to date... The best Christmas present I received this year. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2011 by marketmkr
5.0 out of 5 stars liars poker
a must read to start to comprehend the scope and roots of the market collapse of 2008. Helps one to see wall street for what it truly represents; an unregulated pyramid scheme!
Published on June 16 2010 by Jackson Mooney
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