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Liars Poker: Rising Through The Wreckage On Wall Street Hardcover – Nov 7 1989

4.5 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; unknown edition (Nov. 7 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393027503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393027501
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 has a gift for the rapid portrait. Unless you find his flippant one-liners irritating, it is a pleasure to be guided around the jungle of bond markets by his reminiscences and trenchant asides. . . . Apart from the belly-laughs, one of the triumphs of Liar's Poker is that it makes the financial complexities of investment banking and the markets accessible to the layman. . . . Everything from yields to selling short is painlessly clarified in the course of the narrative. — Victor Mallet (London Review of Books)

Vivid and memorable. — Library Journal

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. — National Review

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of Michael Lewis is a very credible report on the enrollment and development of rookies in the investment banking world.
The managers make the money by sitting on their fat asses, and all the hard working ones creating the wealth suffer on a daily base to get a pity pay. And for the dreamers, you are not a professional investor working for clients, but a peddler for whatever has not sold in the bank inventory.
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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael gives the reader an inside look at one firm on Wall St. The story is not new: greed, power, money. It never changes. This look from the 1980's does lay some of the ground work for what happened in 2008. Of course Michael would not have realized it when he wrote this book. You may have your opinions of how the Street opporates, this just confirms how one firm went about their daily activities from the view point of a rookie working his way into and up the success ladder at a major Wall Street Firm.
Easy read.
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lewis has a captivating writing style. I have now read a couple of his books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Liar's Poker itself gives the reader a peek at what the 80s trading desks were up to behind closed doors. Always interesting subject matter however, I recommend that you have decent baseline knowledge about finance before reading Liars Poker. Either way, worth picking up especially if $10 million salaries make you envious.
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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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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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