Liar's Poker

Liar's Poker

Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Book - 1989
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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, a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call.With the eye and ear of a born storyteller, Michael Lewis shows us how things really worked on Wall Street. In the Salomon training program a roomful of aspirants is stunned speechless by the vitriolic profanity of the Human Piranha; out on the trading floor, bond traders throw telephones at the heads of underlings and Salomon chairman Gutfreund challenges his chief trader to a hand of liar's poker for one million dollars; around the world in London, Tokyo, and New York, bright young men like Michael Lewis, connected by telephones and computer terminals, swap gross jokes and find retail buyers for the staggering debt of individual companies or whole countries.The bond traders, wearing greed and ambition and badges of honor, might well have swaggered straight from the pages of Bonfire of the Vanities. But for all their outrageous behavior, they were in fact presiding over enormous changes in the world economy. Lewis's job, simply described, was to transfer money, in the form of bonds, from those outside America who saved to those inside America who consumed. In doing so, he generated tens of millions of dollars for Salomon Brothers, and earned for himself a ringside seat on the greatest financial spectacle of the decade: the leveraging of America.
Publisher: New York : Norton, c1989
ISBN: 9780393027501
Characteristics: 249 p. ; 24 cm


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Apr 23, 2017

still a good read after 25 years

Jun 14, 2016

Great insight from a rational person inside a irrational workplace. Gives you a good understanding of the bond market and the power that bond traders had back in the 80's/90's wall street era. Some of his characters in the book are thoroughly entertaining.

Jun 10, 2016

I'm a big fan of Michael Lewis' books so I have surprised myself that it is only now that I finished reading Liar's Poker. Also, I read this after I had finished reading The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, so in some ways it was curious to read about some of the people knowing how the epilogue went more than 20 years after.
So much has been said about Liar's Poker since it came out more than 20 years ago that I doubt I will be able to add more as a reviewer. I do want to call out a few points that stood out for me.

I think this book has some of the best explanations of bond market terms (and the distinction from stock market). I think it does a great job of illustrating how certain kinds of bubbles are created.

I truly enjoy Lewis' Wall Street bashing and not because I think automatically "Wall Street = evil" but because he systematically calls out the excesses and questionable/unethical practices. This is of course a recurring theme in multiple books but I think he always put the players' perspectives out clearly.

The only reason I can't give this 5 stars is because I thought it ended a bit abruptly and did not tie back to the dramatic scene in the first chapter.

May 15, 2015

Liar's Poker is touted by GTom Wolfe as the "funniest book on Wall Street" he's ever read. Well, Tom must know much more than I do because although I found this a humorous book in places, it never made me laugh aloud even once. However, the book did confirm what I've always suspected....that traders and brokers don't generally get rich through their investments, but through their commissions. Now show me the trader who gets rich through their investments and maybe I'll listen to them.

Jun 28, 2014

jays website from cap to dem

jlazcan Nov 12, 2011

This is a fantastic book that explains how bad people can behave on Wall Street. Lewis covers the ego driven machismo of trading floor personnel. His experience as a Wall Street associate is one that many of us can relate to.People do not have to work on Wall Street to behave badly. The jokes, the abuse and the immaturity are something that many men/women have a firsthand familiarity with. I rather enjoyed the personal stories and felt that he covered the topic well. This is a great read for any aspiring trader, but the story can carry over to any construction site or office across America and the world.

CorwinK Apr 25, 2011

With Liar's Poker you get a really compelling writer with a wonderful story to tell. Highly recommended for anyone interested in finance or even who has investments. This is a peek behind the curtain to see how the investment sausage gets made and its not pretty but its often pretty funny.

Mar 10, 2011

It almost feels like Lewis dressed up as a bond trader for this book, as Sacha Baron Cohen dressed up as a Kazakh for Borat. Hilarious insight into how scheming, selfish, and shameless behaviours are rewarded with unrestrained power and money. You gotta love Wall Street.


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