Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Liar’s Poker

with one comment

This week I finished the rare end-of-the-semester-pleasure-book: Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis.  It’s an account of his short career as an investment banker in the 1980s.  It was laugh out loud funny in places and sharp witted about the life and values of an investment bank.  It reminded me a great deal of Power Broker in how it looked inside a large institution and showed the incentives it creates and the havoc they wreak.

It fed my growing feeling that I should be suspicious of the common wisdom that the institutions we interact with in life have our best interests in mind.  In this book it is the banks, the brokers, the government who come off looking poorly.  The government is ignorant of the havoc it has unleashed in deregulating savings and loans.  Local bankers gamble for redemption, wagering what’s left of their customer’s money in increasingly desperate bids to keep their jobs another month.  The investment bankers take advantage of their customer’s ignorance of the process and the market, working for their own profits instead of customer who is to ignorant to know they are getting screwed.

It all has me depressed about the institutions of the world.  It wasn’t the unabashed desire to make money that has me feeling glum, instead it was how the customers went like sheep to the slaughter, unable to understand what motivated the investment bankers.  The bankers themselves are hardly more admirable.   They used their monopoly position to ride the bubble up to the top, all the while congratulating themselves because the money they made proved how smart they really were.

All in all Liar’s Poker was a sharp read about that taught me a bit about bond trading in order to let me marvel at the dog-eat-dog, rich-get-richer world of Wall Street in the 1980s.  Helpful in understanding the 2000s and perhaps a bit about life as well.


Written by furthermusings

December 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Reviews

One Response

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. I cant stand loan officers because I feel they like you mention investment bankers do.. Take advantage of unsuspecting customers for their own profits leaving the customers holding the bag when the bubble burst. Great article!

    Ryan Mayfield

    December 17, 2010 at 9:59 pm

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