I actually bought this book as I was trying to learn more about the recent financial crisis. Once I got the book and started reading it I quickly realized the book was about the 80's and 90's. No matter, the story was mostly the same as any recession and why we got there, just switch around some dates.
As with most Wall Street tell alls I was horrified these people are running our financial world. Buyer Beware would be an understatement in most instances, especially as you read about derivatives. I often wonder what these brilliant minds could do instead of simply trying to be as rich as they can while screwing everyone else out of their money. Sad to read that state pensions and insurance funds were tied up in this mess, however, what is really sad is the traders and salespeople knew these were risky derivatives and chose to say nothing or provide any warning (at least this is the feeling you get from the book). The author mentions the State of California and the State of Wisconsin (and I am sure New York) were part of this buying, and probably no coincidence, are going through severe financial constrains as I write this review.
The author wondered out loud "why such supposedly conservative investors were taking on so much risk." His bosses said as long as they were upfront in disclosing the risks, it was none of their business what these clients bought.
I found the definition of "emerging markets" as interesting. The author went on to say Bond Salesmen are very clever at inventing deceptive names for risky bonds to make them seem more desirable. The name sounds great, but they were really a disguise for junk bonds.
Good explanation about inflation and Brazil and the impact this had on pricing and interest rates. This would be a fascinating part of the job to learn and understand.
For me the book is a good reminder of not getting caught up in fads on Wall Street and to make sure you understand the financial instrument you are buying. The person who sells these should have your best interests in mind and share the goal of helping you reach yours. You will hate some of the people in the book, but realize they were doing a job, albeit a disgusting and ugly one at times.
I still think about if these people with these beautiful financial and quantitative minds decided to help those of us who are not financial geniuses how great this country could be (and most of us might not have to work until 70 years old to retire)!