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Archive for the ‘Wall Street’ Category

Excellent Fresh Air interview with finance journalist, Gillian Tett, about the invention of credit derivatives at J. P. Morgan in the mid-90’s and the monumental wealth and eventual collapse they enabled:

The J.P. Morgan derivatives team was engaged in the banking equivalent of space travel. Computing power and high-order mathematics were taking finance far from its traditional bounds, and this small group of brilliant minds was charting the outer reaches of cyberfinance. Like scientists cracking the DNA code or splitting the atom, the J.P. Morgan swaps team believed their experiments in what bankers refer to as “innovation” — meaning the invention of bold new ways of generating returns — were solving the most foundational riddles of their discipline. “There was this sense that we had found this fantastic technology which we really believed in and we wanted to take to every part of the market we could,” Winters later recalled. “There was a sense of mission.”

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Liar’s Poker author, the great Michael Lewis, is back with an amazing look at the downfall of Wall Street:

To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

A poignant, beautifully-written account of a gilded, morally-questionable era we will likely never see again.

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