House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street

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A blistering narrative account of the negligence and greed that pushed all of Wall Street into chaos and the country into a financial crisis.
 
At the beginning of March 2008, the monetary fabric of Bear Stearns, one of the world’s oldest and largest investment banks, began unraveling. After ten days, the bank no longer existed, its assets sold under duress to rival JPMorgan Chase. The effects would be felt nationwide, as the country suddenly found itself in the grip of the worst financial mess since the Great Depression. William Cohan exposes the corporate arrogance, power struggles, and deadly combination of greed and inattention, which led to the collapse of not only Bear Stearns but the very foundations of Wall Street.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

WILLIAM D. COHAN, a former senior Wall Street investment banker, is the bestselling author of The Last Tycoons and the winner of the 2007 FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. He is an online columnist for The New York Times, and writes frequently for Vanity Fair, Fortune, ArtNews, The Financial Times, the Washington Post and the Daily Beast.  He also appears frequently on CNN, Bloomberg TV and CNBC, and also on numerous NPR shows.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Anchor
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Published on
Mar 10, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780385530460
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Banks & Banking
Business & Economics / Corporate & Business History
Business & Economics / Finance / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A grand and revelatory portrait of Wall Street’s most storied investment bank

Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

William D. Cohan, himself a former high-level Wall Street banker, takes the reader into the mysterious and secretive world of Lazard and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company.  Cohan deconstructs the explosive feuds between Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, superstar investment bankers and pillars of New York society, and between the man who controlled Lazard, the inscrutable French billionaire Michel David-Weill, and his chosen successor, Bruce Wasserstein.

Cohan follows Felix, the consummate adviser, as he reshapes corporate America in the 1970s and 1980s, saves New York City from bankruptcy, and positions himself in New York society and in Washington. Felix’s dreams are dashed after the arrival of Steve, a formidable and ambitious former newspaper reporter. By the mid-1990s, as Lazard neared its 150th anniversary, Steve and Felix were feuding openly.
 
The internal strife caused by their arguments could not be solved by the imperious Michel, whose manipulative tendencies served only to exacerbate the trouble within the firm. Increasingly desperate, Michel took the unprecedented step of relinquishing operational control of Lazard to one of the few Great Men still around, Bruce Wasserstein, then fresh from selling his own M&A boutique, for $1.4 billion.  Bruce’s take: more than $600 million. But it turned out Great Man Bruce had snookered Great Man Michel when the Frenchman was at his most vulnerable. 

The LastTycoons is a tale of vaulting ambitions, whispered advice, worldly mistresses, fabulous art collections, and enormous wealth—a story of high drama in the world of high finance. 


From the Trade Paperback edition.
In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall.  Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing.  He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall Street. But Paulson was convinced this was his chance to make his mark. He just wasn't sure how to do it.  Colleagues at investment banks scoffed at him and investors dismissed him.  Even pros skeptical about housing shied away from the complicated derivative investments that Paulson was just learning about.  But Paulson and a handful of renegade investors such as Jeffrey Greene and Michael Burry began to bet heavily against risky mortgages and precarious financial companies. Timing is everything, though. Initially, Paulson and the others lost tens of millions of dollars as real estate and stocks continued to soar. Rather than back down, however, Paulson redoubled his bets, putting his hedge fund and his reputation on the line.
     In the summer of 2007, the markets began to implode, bringing Paulson early profits, but also sparking efforts to rescue real estate and derail him. By year's end, though, John Paulson had pulled off the greatest trade in financial history, earning more than $15 billion for his firm--a figure that dwarfed George Soros's billion-dollar currency trade in 1992.  Paulson made billions more in 2008 by transforming his gutsy move.  Some of the underdog investors who attempted the daring trade also reaped fortunes. But others who got the timing wrong met devastating failure, discovering that being early and right wasn't nearly enough.
     Written by the prizewinning reporter who broke the story in The Wall Street Journal, The Greatest Trade Ever is a superbly written, fast-paced, behind-the-scenes narrative of how a contrarian foresaw an escalating financial crisis--that outwitted Chuck Prince, Stanley O'Neal, Richard Fuld, and Wall Street's titans--to make financial history.


From the Hardcover edition.
A timely, counterintuitive defense of Wall Street and the big banks as the invisible—albeit flawed—engines that power our ideas, and should be made to work better for all of us

Maybe you think the banks should be broken up and the bankers should be held accountable for the financial crisis in 2008. Maybe you hate the greed of Wall Street but know that it’s important to the proper functioning of the world economy. Maybe you don’t really understand Wall Street, and phrases such as “credit default swap” make your eyes glaze over. Maybe you are utterly confused by the fact that after attacking Wall Street mercilessly during his campaign, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with Wall Street veterans. But if you like your smart phone or your widescreen TV, your car or your morning bacon, your pension or your 401(k), then—whether you know it or not—you are a fan of Wall Street.

William D. Cohan is no knee-jerk advocate for Wall Street and the big banks. He’s one of America’s most respected financial journalists and the progressive bestselling author of House of Cards. He has long been critical of the bad behavior that plagued much of Wall Street in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, and because he spent seventeen years as an investment banker on Wall Street, he is an expert on its inner workings as well.

But in recent years he’s become alarmed by the cheap shots and ceaseless vitriol directed at Wall Street’s bankers, traders, and executives—the people whose job it is to provide capital to those who need it, the grease that keeps our economy humming. In this brisk, no-nonsense narrative, Cohan reminds us of the good these institutions do—and the dire consequences for us all if the essential role they play in making our lives better is carelessly curtailed.

Praise for William D. Cohan

“Cohan writes with an insider’s knowledge of the workings of Wall Street, a reporter’s investigative instincts and a natural storyteller’s narrative command.”—The New York Times

“[Cohan is] one of our most able financial journalists.”—Los Angeles Times

“A former Wall Street man and a talented writer, [Cohan] has the rare gift not only of understanding the fiendishly complicated goings-on, but also of being able to explain them in terms the lay reader can grasp.”—The Observer (London)
There were dozens of books about Watergate, but only All the President's Men gave readers the full story, with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting. And thirty years later, if you're going to read only one book on Watergate, that's still the one. Today, Enron is the biggest business story of our time, and Fortune senior writers Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are the new Woodward and Bernstein.

Remarkably, it was just two years ago that Enron was thought to epitomize a great New Economy company, with its skyrocketing profits and share price. But that was before Fortune published an article by McLean that asked a seemingly innocent question: How exactly does Enron make money? From that point on, Enron's house of cards began to crumble. Now, McLean and Elkind have investigated much deeper, to offer the definitive book about the Enron scandal and the fascinating people behind it.

Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron's past—and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron's rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise. It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark. Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit—a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it's a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal.

The world's top trader's reveal the secrets of theirphenomenal success!

 How do the world's most successful traders amass tens,hundreds of millions of dollars a year? Are they masters of anoccult knowledge, lucky winners in a random market lottery,natural-born virtuosi—Mozarts of the markets? In search of ananswer, bestselling author Jack D. Schwager interviewed dozens oftop traders across most financial markets. While their responsesdiffered in the details, all of them could be boiled down to thesame essential formula: solid methodology + proper mental attitude= trading success. In Market Wizards Schwager lets you hear,in their own words, what those super-traders had to say about theirunprecedented successes, and he distils their responses down into aset of guiding principles you can use to become a trading star inyour own right. 

Features interviews with superstar money-makers including BruceKovner, Richard Dennis, Paul Tudor Jones, Michel Steinhardt, EdSeykota, Marty Schwartz, Tom Baldwin, and moreTells the true stories behind sensational trading coups,including the one about the trader who turned $30,000 into $80million, the hedge fund manager who's averaged 30% returns everyyear for the past twenty-one years, and the T-bond futures traderwho parlayed $25,000 into $2 billion in a single day!

"Market Wizards is one of the most fascinating books everwritten about Wall Street. A few of the 'Wizards' are myfriends—and Jack Schwager has nailed their modus operandi onthe head."
--Martin W. Zweig, Ph.D., Editor, The Zweig Forecast

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