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Liar's Poker Paperback – Mar 2 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (March 2 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393338690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338690
  • ASIN: 039333869X
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

So memorable and alive . . . one of those rare works that encapsulate and define an era. "

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First Sentence
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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joan Valentine on 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 By Vincent Poirier on 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 By sporkdude on Aug. 16 2003
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 By Charents on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Sullivan TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 8 2009
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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