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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback)
 
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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Lewis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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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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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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I was working at Salomon Brothers at the time... Feb. 24 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
... that Mr. Lewis describes, and worked for the fixed income trading desk, so I know for a fact most of his descriptions are pure fiction. As for the rest, he has taken three years of events, embellished and exaggerated them, and presented them as if they occurred in a single day, creating an image of out-of-control mayhem in the company.
Mr. Lewis is a mediocre writer at best, lacking in financial expertise, and interested solely in pulp gossips and self-promotion. If you wish to read an actually well-written book on Wall Street, read "Barbarians at the Gate", "Market Wizards" or "Money Machine" - skip this trash.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Liar's Poker Review May 5 2004
Format:Paperback
Liar's Poker, written by Michael Lewis, describes life on Wall Street during the 1980's and the four years the author worked for Salomon Brothers. Lewis discusses the evolution of the bond market, how mortgaged-backed securities came to exist, and the misfortunes of missing the junk bond market. The fantastic character portrayals are absolutely hilarious and they make the book come to life. Liar's Poker depicts many business ethics issues such as gender and race discrimination, consumer and investor protection, and hostile work environments.
Lewis begins by describing John Gutfreund, Chairman of Salomon, and the Liar's Poker game. Gutfreund is portrayed as a manager that was both feared and respected. He was once a trader and managed Salomon with a trader mentality. Traders by nature are gamblers, so they are willing to take bets, or better yet, they are risk takers. Gutfreund apparently loved playing the game, Liar's Poker, because if a person was good at it, he was probably a good trader as well. The game is played predominantly by Salomon traders whereby a group gathers in a circle holding a dollar bill close to the body to hide the serial numbers. One player begins by making a bid such as "three fives," which means that all the players in the circle have at least three fives in their serial number. The player to the left can either challenge the bid or up the bid by saying three sixes or four fives. Only in a challenge do the players reveal the serial numbers on the bill. Essentially, it is game that rewards players for their ability to bluff or deceive the other players. Lewis uses the game to illustrate Salomon's corporate culture and its leadership.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read
Great book! I've learned a lot.
Published 7 days ago by Dani
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 2 months 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 3 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 13 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 14 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 16 months ago by Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Wicked
I highly recommend the audio version read by Michael Lewis.

This is the funniest book ever written about trading. Read more
Published 16 months ago by NeroTulip1961
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 17 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
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