The Money Culture
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The Money Culture

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  440 ratings  ·  38 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...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1991)
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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
Joann
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
Alan
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
John and Kris
Michael Lewis is living the dream. He is the older brother or the boy that grew up down the street that is good at everything. He went to Princeton. He went to the London School of Economics. He took a job in the early eighties as a trader at Solomon Brothers and made a small fortune. He tried writing. Wrote Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, Trail Fever, and The Blind Side. He’s written for The New Republic, New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg, Vanity Fair, Portfolio, and Slate. He curr...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen
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
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...more
Doug
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
...more
Kevin
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...more
Sam
Jan 10, 2013 Sam rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Nick Black
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.
Tbv

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"

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/21/opi...

Matt
Essentially a collection of articles Lewis wrote in the 80's, this doesn't age as well as some of his other books.
Matthew
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.
Emily
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.
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
Greg Stoll
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.
Matt
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.
Jay
Collection of dated short stories with a financial industry theme. Some are funny, some are sad, most are forgettable.
Jeremy Raper
Typical Lewis fare: a collection of acerbic essays variously lampooning topics like MBOs, Japanese finance, the LBO boom, etc. section on MBOs and their unfairness to shareholders still worth reading; the stuff on Japan reads as a bit dated though. Overall average.
Gil
I enjoy Michael Lewis. You might be interested to know that this book is a compilation of articles written in the 1980s, mostly about finance.

It was a great book, if you are into Wall Street culture in the 1980s. And really, it hasn't changed all that much.
Vasil Kolev
The book is a collection of publications for different magazines that the author did around 1989/1990 on different topics related to the economy and bond/stocks trading. It fills up the picture created by the rest of his books.
Adam Ford
A collection of essays from about 1989-90 about finance. Dated. In hindsight it was too worried about Japan, ignored China completely, and is somewhat self absorbed. A quick read and shows Michael Lewis' future promise.
Cameron
Michael Lewis is one of the best. He writes with such conviction and attacks the evils of Wall Street in the late 1980s-early 1990s in this book, which is a collection of his pieces published in that era.
Matt
A collection of Lewis' articles and stories written during and about the 80s on Wall Street, this entire collection could have come from the pages of yesterday's paper.

A quick, fun read.
Jeff
Collection of short stories, not his most interesting work, but a good idea of the financial system and snobbish behavior of the "elite" in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Darryl Stangry
Good for Lewis fans, may be a bit drab for other readers. Didn't capture the 80's as much as Liar's Poker. Would put it behind 4-5 other Lewis books, but those set a high bar.
Brian
Great writer, and an interesting topic. This is a compilation of articles he wrote over about a 4 year period. The period is the late 80's, though so it's a bit dated.
Tim
Interesting. A bunch of it flew over my head, but some tidbits that worth worth reading even to someone no well versed in the culture of money.
Jerry Peace
Lewis' book reminds that one studies history not to avoid repeating but only to not be surprised by doing the same things again and again and again.
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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.

His latest book, Flash Boys, was published on March 31, 2014.
More about Michael Lewis...
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game Liar's Poker Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

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