Matt's Reviews > Liar's Poker

Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
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's review
Dec 04, 08

This was a fascinating book to be reading in the midst of the biggest financial crisis of the past 75 years. Liar's Poker records the author's experience as a bonds trader for Solomon Brothers, at the height of the 80's trading explosion - an accurate, and frightening, account of the ludicrous nature of the whole industry. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the book is the attitude of the traders: to make money at any cost, regardless of the consequences. In this world, it was perfectly acceptable to "blow-up" (bankrupt) a customer with a trade, because the company would make a hefty commission, regardless of the outcome for the others involved in the trade.

It's easy to see how the groundwork for our current financial mess was laid in this environment. Lewis talks about how new sources of income were constantly being made by cutting up bonds into new derivative securities - similar to the derivatives used from the sub-prime mortgages. When they mortgages collapses, so did all the derivative securities - but the obfuscation was deep enough so that many, many people bought those derivatives who should have known better.

Overall, Liar's Poker is well-written and entertaining enough to recommend to anyone, but it's also a disturbingly enlightening lens through which to see our current financial struggles.
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