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The Money Culture

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  858 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
The classic warts-and-all portrait of the 1980s financial scene.

The 1980s was the most outrageous and turbulent era in the financial market since the crash of '29, not only on Wall Street but around the world. Michael Lewis, as a trainee at Salomon Brothers in New York and as an investment banker and later financial journalist, was uniquely positioned to chronicle the ambi
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1991)
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Krishna Kumar
May 03, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it liked it
This is a bunch of essays that Michael Lewis wrote about various finance-related topics in the 1980s. Almost all of the material is outdated, but it is interesting to read from a historical perspective, but not that relevant today. In fact, an intriguing section of the book dealt with how an earthquake in Japan could be traumatic to the financial markets and I read it around the time (2011) that an actual severe earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. But I could not relate anything from what I read t ...more
Christopher Mitchell
Mar 12, 2016 Christopher Mitchell rated it really liked it
Michael Lewis is such a strong writer. Some of these columns provide an interesting window into a time I barely remember in terms of the "threat" posed by the Japanese. Others are incredibly valuable in better understanding how leveraged buy-outs worked - by basically ripping off shareholders and dodging taxes. Wall Street at its finest, explained by a great writer.
Jarrod Jenkins
Michael Lewis reminds me of the film producers/writers/directors the Coen brothers, and "The Money Culture" reminds me of "No Country for Old Men" in that both are more about style than substance. What, after all, was the point of "No Country?" Answer: America is a rough place filled with evil and all one can do is his best when faced with uncontrollable external forces, e.g. ride out into the dark and build a fire in the night for others to join you. The point of "The Money Culture" is simply t ...more
Jul 23, 2016 Joann rated it liked it
This book was a big disappointment.. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Michael Lewis. Liar's Poker and The Big Short are two of the best books on Wall Street greed and its impact on Main Street that I've ever read. But The Money Culture is really nothing more than a time capsule. It was copyrighted in 1991 and reprinted in 2011 (when people realized that Michael Lewis knows what he is talking about). The back of the book describes it as a "Warts-and-all portrait of the 1980s financial scene. ...more
Jul 08, 2014 Alan rated it it was ok
I bought this to take away in holiday with me. You know that feeling when you start reading a book and suddenly you realise you have read it before? Well, that's what happened here. This book originally came out in the 1980's I guess and was re-released in 2011, you know the deal, new cover, cash in on a much larger profile that when it was originally put out. And, as a big fan of Michael Lewis Liars Poker, Flash Boys, Boomerang each and every one excellent. It was still an enjoyable read and wi ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Venky rated it liked it
Shelves: bibliocase
Employing bold candour and brazen wit, Michael Lewis regales his reader about the new culture spawning the financial spectrum across the globe - a culture of uninhibited and vulgar greed. Manifesting itself in myriad ways such as Leveraged Buy Outs ("LBO"); collaterised mortgages and hostile takeovers, the unashamed purveyors of this culture remorselessly plough along leaving in their trail a ruinous wake.

Michael Lewis provides a no holds barred vantage view about the motives underlying the blit
Yosh Han
"The same bittersweet scent that has driven American investors wild with desire for the past five years is now intoxicating the stock markets of Western Europe. Oe Brit in the City of London describes it as "the odor of the American financier-a blend of sweaty ambition, jet fuel, and overpriced cologne."

From the chapter entitled Slicing Up Europe for Fun and Profit
Peter Mortimer
May 30, 2015 Peter Mortimer rated it liked it
"The Money Culture" is a collection of column pieces, that Michael Lewis has written in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His witty style, that the reader is known out of his other books like "The Big Short", can also be found in "The Money Culture", although the pieces don't seem to hold the same relevance they might have had almost thirty years ago.
Mar 23, 2016 Quinn rated it really liked it
I've read a couple of Michael Lewis' books, the Big Short and Boomerang. I grew up on Long Island, and my father was a trader on Wall Street in the 1980's and 90's, but that culture was always a mystery to me. I love this series of articles. It's a lot of little insights into those heady times.
Alicia Powell
Apr 05, 2015 Alicia Powell rated it liked it
3.5 stars, this is a collection of older essays so not quite so cohesive as Mr. Lewis' other books. His usual enjoyable style is in force, however, and I learned interesting things I never thought I'd want to know about the Japanese economy. Michael Lewis has a way of doing that for me.....
Tim O'Hearn
Feb 22, 2016 Tim O'Hearn rated it it was ok
A collection of already-published essays that feels like an incessant money-grab. A few diamonds in the rough but not worth the read.
John Gurney
Dec 13, 2014 John Gurney rated it liked it
Interesting, but dated, cilkwction of largely previuosly published anecdotes about Wall Street, The City in London, and Tokyo finance in the 1980s and early 1990s. Lewis is a witty writer.
Todd Johnson
May 05, 2015 Todd Johnson rated it it was ok
Best suited for the Michael Lewis completist or people with a keen interest in late '80s Wall Street culture. Good writing, but very dated at this point.
Micah Neely
Some articles better than others. Shameless potboiler from a very good journalist.

Fulfills my purposes for it: to get a quick portrait of money culture from a time before I was conscious.
Aug 05, 2014 Mark rated it liked it
Good, but not Lewis' best.
Jun 13, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it
No match to Liar's Poker...
Feb 09, 2012 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2010 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is composed of a number of articles about the financial world that Michael Lewis wrote for various publications in the late 80's and early 90's. He describes the culture of greed and excess that ruled Wall Street during the 80s. At this point, of course, the book seems both dated and prescient. Many of the names he mentions are still around (Warren Buffet, Ben Bernanke), and many of the troublesome financial practices you hear about in connection with the current crash apparently have ...more
Sean Sullivan
Aug 18, 2007 Sean Sullivan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I love me some Michael Lewis, and I have confessed here before a pleasure in the business tell all book. Michael Lewis wrote one of the genre, Liar’s Poker. This collection of pieces written right before and after Liar’s Poker is all right, but not his best work.

I have a high tolerance for bad writing if I am interested in the subject manner, but even I had a hard time getting through some of the early pieces in here about the excesses of Wall Street or the inherent stupidity of American Express
Mar 28, 2012 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, nonfiction
In terms of big financial news, I guess there wasn't much that happened in the early 90s. This book was a good epilogue of the Barbarians at the Gate 80s and segway into the greed of the Dotcom boom and beyond. A point the struck me was Lewis's observation of the roots of the changing relationship between banks and corporations.

Changing the structure of the market for corporate shares has profound effects on corporate control for several reasons. First, when brokerage profits collapse, brokerag
Oct 15, 2013 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I need to start reading the summaries before reading the book. I've read another book by Michael Lewis and thought it was fantastic. However, this one leaves a bit to be desired.

Going through it, I found it interesting, frequently funny, which is odd considering that it's a book about our money obsession. But I kept wondering how he was going to bring all these stories he was telling into a single, succinct point. Well, I was still wondering that after I finished it.

Turns out it's a collection
Jan 10, 2013 Sam rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Like all good Michael Lewis, The Money Culture cultivates some of the best stories from a topsy-turvy age and unspools them delightfully for his readers. In The Money Culture, Lewis explores the scene of the late 80's and early nineties, after the Savings and Loans and before the deregulation and Internet bubble that defined the end of the 20th century on Wall Street. From vignettes like a Christmas Carol adaptation, circa 1990, to sardonic bulletins from a cruise up the Amazon for would-be stoc ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
A highly entertaining exposé of U.S., British, and Japanese financial culture during the late '80's and early '90's, but certainly bearing relevant truths for both our current and more recent money world. Michael Lewis delivers a series of oft-humorous, sometimes sobering tales of financial discussions/interactions with people of that time ranging from liquor store sales clerks to top business architects--even gaining an audience with Emperor Akihito himself! Well, the latter not so much for a d ...more
Aug 18, 2012 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

In this collection of magazine essays & newspaper opeds from the late 80s & early 90s, Michael Lewis displays the skills that rank him among the best modern-day cultural anthropologists.

I'd guess that one of the big influences upon Lewis' thinking is that other great longtime Wall Street observer, James Grant.

Here's one notably good essay reprinted in "The Money Culture"

Nick Black
Dec 13, 2010 Nick Black rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
very disappointing. i'd thought we'd see more pieces like Lewis's 2008-vintage Vanity Fair epistles, witty pieces full of good analysis or at least reference to god analysis. this, especially the final chapter on Japan, more often just seems confused and juvenile. lewis forthrightly declaims in the preface that "I never intended to have these stuffed inside a hardback, but this is how I make my living now." indeed. Lewis's worst offering, one (like "Losers") that seems justifiably forgotten.
Sep 21, 2009 Matthew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finances
An up and down book.
Its a collection of stories he wrote for different magazines, some of which, such as his story about what would happen to the financial world if Tokyo was hit by a large earthquake. Others were lacking, such as how he compared Australians to Texans, but then never got back to the analogy.

In the end, there are some very interesting vignettes mixed in, and its probably worth wading through the rest to find those gems.
Greg Stoll
Jan 04, 2012 Greg Stoll rated it liked it
The book is a collection of short (3-4 page) vignettes about the financial industry in the 1980's. The are three sections: about America, Europe, and Japan. The stories were occasionally interesting but I'm not familiar enough with the 1980's for most of them to really resonate (although I did learn about leveraged buyouts, I guess). Anyway, it was OK enough.
Jun 28, 2011 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written book, I just was not as interested in the topic as I thought I would be. Michael Lewis is a fantastic author and uses stories to communicate an overlying context of the change the finance market took and what it looks like with examples that seem extreme but really are more common than those outside of this community may think.
Apr 26, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, 2013
Neil kept encouraging me to read/listen to Michael Lewis, but I thought it sounded boring. But I was wrong! He's an engaging and interesting writer trying to explain the greed, corruption, and stupidy in the financial sector. Scary stuff - especially because most of the essays in this book were written in the late 1980's to mid 1990's and we seem to not have learned anything from those times.
Mar 10, 2016 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lewis is a good author. He can describe complex issues and activities in a simple and understandable fashion. I have enjoyed many of his books. This one has many interesting discussions. Unfortunately many of them are somewhat outdated ... written in the 80's and early 90's.

I would still recommend the book as an interesting read.
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Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
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“Textbooks in economics, which explain the economic purpose of money (a unit of account, a store of value, and a means of exchange), usually neglect to mention the chief role of money in America: a source of entertainment.” 0 likes
“Chop house brokers are nomads. The chop house folds or is shut down by the SEC, and its employees move on in a teeming, peristaltic mass.” 0 likes
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