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Liar's Poker (Liar's Poker #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  61,209 Ratings  ·  1,846 Reviews
In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through a powerful investment bank. From an unlikely beginning (art history at Princeton?) he rose in two short years from Salomon Brothers trainee to Geek (the lowest form of life on the trading floor) to Big Swinging Dick, the most dangerous beast in the jungle, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published 1989)
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Petra X
Update On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, I got a call, my banker (view spoiler) resigned from Morgan Stanley. He said they wanted to put the commission and charges clients pay up too much and that it has become Corruption Central. He says he'll phone me when he finds a new company. Does anything change?

My son who is in his last year at law school has a job already with Goldman Sachs. Is he going to becom
...more
Lobstergirl
21 years after publication, Liar's Poker feels both relevant and ancient. Relevant because it seems the Big Swinging Dicks of Wall Street are ever with us; ancient because of references to things like WATS lines and the lionizing of Salomon Brothers trader John Meriwether, whose Long-Term Capital Management would spectacularly implode in 1998, and Michael Milken, who apparently had not yet been indicted when the book went to press but got a 10-year prison sentence for securities violations.

Lewis
...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Atlas Shrugged for the philistine. It's subtle glorification of the greedy, underneath a veneer of hilarious sarcasm and grudging respect is the stuff financial Bibles are made of.

An interesting slice of financial history is captured succinctly, more precisely the development of Collaterized Mortgage Obligations in the 80's which also has direct relevance to the recent U.S housing crisis.

If you wish to get everything you can out of this book, get your Finance 101 straight. It'll be a lot more fu
...more
Ruben
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me. I read and enjoyed Lewis' Moneyball a while back, and thought I was getting another journalistic account, this time of a crazy moment in corporate culture. Instead, it's very much a memoir of that world. And I didn't care for it at first, since the group of people he writes about are so spectacularly awful. He brings a certain world of investment banking trainees home to you, and I wanted nothing to do with it. If that was the whole book, I don't think I could take it. So ...more
Steven
Mar 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
pp 83 is a discussion of S&L's failure in the US.
pp 136 is the best explanation of CMO's I've ever read.

Great read. Initially loaned to me by a coworker. I went out and bought it shortly thereafter.

A former art student winds up becoming a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers in the mid 1980's. He sees a lot, and describes it vividly. Chernobyl. The October Crash of 1987. Gutfreund and Meriwether quibbling over how much to bet in one hand of the title game.

He introduces some terms to the lexico
...more
Walter Spence
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 2007, super investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway made a bet with some of the people over at the Protege Partners hedge fund. He wagered that over a period of ten years the S&P 500 (a passive index) would outperform a group of five hedge funds* handpicked by Protege, with the loser donating one million dollars to the charity of the winner's choice.

(*Hedge Fund: A limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realiz
...more
Riku Sayuj
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Puneet Raheja
First book of this type I truly enjoyed. Thank you Lewis for opening up a new field of book to explore.
Kate
Why am I languishing here, making approximately $0 dollars as a librarian? Why was I not a Wall Street investment banker?! These guys were having all the fun. In his introduction to the Big Short, Lewis writes that he was dismayed people took Liar's Poker not as a cautionary tale, but as a how-to manual for their careers. But I can totally understand why! He makes the trading floor sound like the place to be, the absolute center of the universe.

He's also got a real knack for explaining somethin
...more
Kirk
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Probably the least interesting thing by Michael Lewis that I've read. Billed as an expose of Wall Street greed, I found it more to be a story of incompetent management and political infighting by conceited executives who found themselves successful by being in the right place at the right time, but think themselves as geniuses.

Some of this reminded me a lot of my father's stories of the politics at his former law practice. Why anyone would want to work in a place with so much backstabbing and v
...more
Mike
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
I'm a little torn by this book. It's well written, it's funny in places, some of Michael Lewis' observations are very astute and I'm sure that on some level this is an excellent commentary on the downfall of a once great company. Lewis was a trainee bond trader at Salomon Brothers when that firm was the most profitable on Wall St. He did very well out of his time there, and his analysis both here and in another of his works, The Big Short, pinpoints several of the problems that society has, or s ...more
Brian
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
To write a non-fictional portrayal of your life during your 20s is not an easy task. To do this while still in your 20s, to have it be your first book, and to have the story revolve around bond trading / Wall Street - and not have the book be as dry as it sounds - seems an almost cruel undertaking. But Lewis managed to do this. Despite what would seem to be the worst idea for a first book, Lewis keeps the reader interested and turning pages, even with a cast of execrable people that are only mad ...more
Wesley
Nov 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Liar's Poker tells the story of Michael Lewis and his career on Wall Street during the eighties. In those days, it was almost like the wild west with people throwing money around. Then, the loss of massive sums of money (one hundred million and over) was something that was laughable and easily disregarded. Now, losing that amount of money would yield either a huge embarassment or an instantaeneous firing. Througout the book, Michael Lewis describes to macho-nature of the financial world by using ...more
Lucas
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Đọc Lewis thì khỏi phải nói rồi, rất thỏa mãn ở khía cạnh giải trí. Đây có lẽ là một trong những quyển thú vị ngôn ngữ nhất về phố Wall (đọc là: buồn cười) mà tôi đọc được. Nếu Flash Boys hơi nặng tính kỹ thuật và chỉ trích, The Undoing Project thiên về tính lịch sử và thán phục thì Liar’s Poker, đúng như cái tên, nghiêng về những trò mánh khóe và lừa bịp (The Big ShortMoneyball thì tôi mới chỉ xem phim, chưa đọc sách).

Với những kinh nghiệm ít ỏi của tôi khi còn “ở bên trong” thị trường chứ
...more
Beth
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that Michael Lewis is a superb writer. He takes a complex topic, such as mortgage-backed securities, and explains them so that your every(wo)man can understand them. He is also a great observer of human character, and he writes about people with great aplomb. I feel as if I personally know his characters. While the subject matter of investment banking in the 1980s is filled with blind greed, leaving the reader disgusted, Lewis manages to make this book a fabulous read.
Arvind
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was my 7th book by the author and I have loved all his earlier books. Even I was surprised how much I disliked this one.
Unlike the other books, this was a memoir of the author's days from investment banking. Remember U.S. Investment bankers ? The guys who paid themselves fat bonuses after the govt bailout in 2008. The guys who broke every barrier of greed in their insane lust for profits. This is about how one of the biggest investment banking firms "Salomon Brothers" worked in the 1980s.
So
...more
Mike Moore
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Mike by: It's amazing to me that this wasn't required reading in my education. A gross oversight
Shelves: business
For people who want to understand the peculiar failure modes of capitalism that have been illustrated by the bubbles, crashes, and bailouts of the past decade, Liar's Poker is required reading. Not that it provides solutions to the problems (far from it), but it illustrates the problem space perhaps better than any other book I know.

It does this by means of a sympathetic, yet introspective, portrayal of the vicious, base-natured villainy that is Wall Street Corporate culture. There is little roo
...more
Deepak
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ironically (you will understand why once you read the book), this was one of the suggested readings when I was interning with Goldman Sachs.

The book captures the experiences of Michael Lewis as a Salomon bond salesman. But what it includes in more excruciating detail is "the" truth about the glorified Wall Street (using this phrase in a rather generic sense to include markets in other locations as well), and the rise and fall of one of its inhabitants, Salomon Brothers, in the 1970s and 80s.

To
...more
Frank Stein
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and funny memoir of life on Wall Street in the 1980s. Michael Lewis shows exactly how craven and self-serving his firm, Salomon Brothers, had become by the time of his arrival in 1985. Previously a backwater, Jewish-led, bond trading firm, Salomon rode the wave of leverage in the Reagan era to become the most profitable investment bank in the world. Yet part of that success came from keeping good deals on its own books and passing bad bets to its customers. Lewis describes his first ...more
Flavio
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Liar's Poker is a book about the days that Michael Lewis spent at Solomon Brothers as a Bond broker during the bond boom that took place starting in the 80's. The book is really entertaining and at the same time very informative. The book can be grouped into a few sections, that have very distinct focuses. The first is about the rise to prominence of Louie Ranieri to the head of the mortgage bond trading desk and his subsequent fall. The second is about Lewis' own experience in the London office ...more
Text Addict
The last line is probably the funniest/most ironic line I've read all year.
Arjun Mishra
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
I was hoping for a better book from Michael Lewis. I read The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine before reading this, so my expectations might have been biased, but I was hoping for something that did more than illuminate some scandalous activity. It was minor league in that it attempted to illustrate some central characters in Solomon Brothers. Lewis does much better in making his characters palpable in The Big Short.

He touched upon this a couple times, but he never entirely pounced upon th
...more
Joshua Stein
Lewis is a phenomenal writer, and it's important to keep in mind that this is his first book. The writing is strong, but not technically as well-developed as his later work (Blindside and Moneyball) but it has something that is often a feature of "first works" in a writer's career. It is deeply personal, and Lewis's Liar's Poker has more of Michael Lewis in it than the other books by a fairly substantial margin.

I really enjoy the book, and think that the personal elements of the storytelling are
...more
Nitesh Kanthaliya
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book which shows first hand experience of a trainee when he enters the bond market when it was at its peak. It showcases the care (pun intended) that Salomon Brothers and like took of their clients. A person with a portfolio of less than 100M is a scapegoat and guinea pig for the trainee's On the Job training. The fat paychecks that the bond traders and bond salesmen draw for duping the clients basis the fact that they know a little more than the clients is quite hilarious. However, in d ...more
Matt
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 accepta ...more
Brendan
I liked Moneyball, and The Big Short is one of my favorite books, but Liar's Poker was disappointing.

Since it is a story about life in an investment bank, I expected Wolf of Wall Street-style parties and debauchery, but none of that happened. In fact, nothing much at all happened in this book, which describes Lewis' brief tenure as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s.

A third of the book is about the training program, another third is about Lewis' year as a "geek" (a junior trader) and
...more
Ahinch
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this worn down bestseller in the investing for dummies section at the library. I read it in a few days and I have a short attention span so it's a good read. This could be easily made into a movie and the author has written books such as Blind Side and Moneyball which were turned into movies.

This is all about the life of a Wall Street bond salesman in a big firm called Salomon Brothers, the firm basically, in the 1980s. It mixes biography with the rise and fall of a company. The company
...more
Franco Da Costa Gomez
Really, really wished I had read this book about a year and a half ago when I was about to start my job-search in college. The first few chapters describe what I went through perfectly, I was nodding along the whole way. That didn't last too long though as I definitely got lost in all the jargon/technical speak/employee names later on in the book and ended up rushing to finish it. Good read though, and I learned a lot:

I do not want to work in finance and never should have wanted to work in finan
...more
Pranit Bauva
Student perspective:

I am very new to investment banking, and I found this book really great. It tells many things about what happens inside of investment banks. Of course, a little bit background of finance is required (khanacademy.org is enough) to understand things. The best things I liked about this book is that the author shares all the actual trading incidents that happened and how they made money by exploiting each situation. This book also explains some things about corporate structure (I
...more
Melissa
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a real page turner. Lewis takes the reader back to the late 70s and all through the 80s and tells the story of one "rogue" investment bank, Salomon Brothers, Inc. There is a big section of this rather short (249 pages) book that is devoted all to Lewis Rainrie and his newly conceived mortgage backed securities (MBS) trading department - this is the beginning of what would lead to the global recession of 2008. This section really helped give the reader more understanding and insight into ...more
Carl White
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone fascinated with Wall Street or the human frailty of greed.
Recommended to Carl by: No one.

I am a big fan of Michael Lewis so it is hard for me to be objective in a review but I do think this book is brilliant.
Personally I have not ready a better book that sums up the greed and gluttony of 1980's Wall Street.
One thing that I found fascinating, especially with our recent financial collapse and history to compare and contrast, is that this book so clearly shows that as smart and as slick as some people can be in their quest to get rich in the financial markets ultimately Wall Street is
...more
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5,564 followers
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.
More about Michael Lewis

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Liar's Poker (2 books)
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“Those who know don't tell and those who tell don't know.” 136 likes
“The men on the trading floor may not have been to school, but they have Ph.D.’s in man’s ignorance.” 65 likes
More quotes…