During the '80s, Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham created the corporate raiders. He was the billionaire Junk Bond King. But, in the corner stood the U.S. District Attorney waiting to file criminal and racketeering charges.
I found this to be just a riveting book to read. It reminded me of the movie Wall Street although from what I gather Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham was not as good looking as Michael Douglas and he wore a hair piece and drove an older Oldsmobile, not a Ferrari.
Milken while reading the Wall Street Journal and similar material on the bus going to business school in Philadelphia came up with this idea of selling the junk bonds. Once he graduated and was employed he pushed that idea, similar to the way Fred Smith pushed Fed.Ex. - another college idea. It comes clear in the book, just shouting out at you, that he had lots of help. Banks helped him, brokers helped him, other companies helped him, he opened a new office for Drexel in LA and in general just took over that company - all because people knew and appreciated that he was going to make buckets of money. His whole scheme was in fact similar to a pyramid scheme with everyone getting fat fees that were supposed to be re-paid down stream by the successful company. The Predator's Ball did exist as real annual social get together where the bankers, brokers, and the borrowing companies got together for a night of partying. The victims - the shareholders - were not invited.
Like every Ponzi scheme at some point reality had to set in and it failed. That is what this book is about. Sure we can learn but apparently we are immune or unable to learn from history because the market over inflated itself and the Nasdaq went to 5000+ a decade later, and we had World Com and Enron. It is also remarkable that after taking so much money he got off with a light jail sentence and a big fine ($500. million) that Millken could pay.
Jack in Toronto
Fredlybrand from Chapel Hill, NC and Dan Ross from Allen, Tx are apparently the same person.
Connie Bruck ranks along with Joe Nocera as one of the world's best business writers. This book is tremendously readable and gives a balanced but insightful look at Michael Milken.
I came away from the book with the idea that Milken was a genius who earned his great fortune with 18 hour work days. and I still believe he had a tremendous and positive contribution to the world.
the Some of my friends came away from the book with the idea that Milken was a horrible human being who was ruining the country. The beauty of the book is that it you can read it and draw your own conclusions rather than a writer's preconceived ideas.
Buy it and read it again. It is worth always owning.