Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Review: Liar's Poker

A few months back I reviewed Michael Lewis' The Big Short. Shortly thereafter, a few friends recommended his earlier work, Liar's Poker. I got around to reading it last week.

Liar's Poker was Lewis' literary debut, and tells the account of his time as a Wall street trader at Salomon Brothers, where he spent several years.

The book talks in detail about the hiring process, culture, and career path at the firm, and in the process paints an accurate picture of the dog-eat-dog harsh culture in these firms. It would strain credibility for me if I didn't have a good friend who worked at such a firm and who has shared countless stories that mirror Lewis' account. It then goes on to talk about the rise and fall of the firm during rushes around gold-rushes in the mortgage security and junk bond markets.

While not as detailed an account of the systemic flaws of modern day markets & market regulation as The Big Short was, it does go into enough detail in the style that Lewis has become famous for. Namely, taking complex and dry topics and making them engaging and digestible.

Where the book shines though, is in the portrayal of the personalities and the culture of trading firms. Characters given pseudonyms such as "The Opportunist" and "The Human Piranha" should give you an idea of why so many who work in this business don't last more than a few years.

Liar's Poker

1 comment:

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