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

af William D. Cohan

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5291433,897 (3.73)5
William D. Cohan's superb and shocking narrative chronicles the fall of Bear Stearns and the end of the Second Gilded Age on Wall Street, explaining how a combination of risky bets, corporate political infighting, lax government regulations and truly bad decision-making wrought havoc on the world financial system.… (mere)

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Arrived Lausanne
  LOM-Lausanne | Mar 19, 2020 |
A book that examines one of the seminal events of the 2008 financial crisis; the run that eventually led to the collapse and forced sale of Bear, Stearns & Co. to JPMorganChase. The book starts with the days leading up to the collapse, and then, in the second part, looks at the evolution of Bear, Stearns, going all the way back to the founding of the firm in the 1920s, and following the careers of some of the key players in the firm, like Cy Lewis and "Ace" Greenberg, and then, in a later generation, Jimmy Cayne. The author, I think, does a very good job of exploring the personalities and their quirks; the chemistry of the leadership of Bear, Stearns directly led to some of the issues that led to the firm's downfall. A lot of the financial terms that are involved in an explanation of why the firm went bust are a bit abstruse (I know some other commenters were puzzled by them), but again, the author does a pretty good job in explaining them. I happened to be on the very edges of what was going on here -- I was an employee of Merrill Lynch at the time. I can say that the author does a good job of evoking what was going on. Recommended for financial history mavens. ( )
  EricCostello | Sep 20, 2018 |
Another good book about the recent financial collapse. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 25, 2016 |
Highly detailed account of the rise and fall of Bear Stearns.

Awfully hard to follow for those of us who don't understand the market just because of all the market lingo used, but hey, that's the nature of the book so I can't complain. I just personally couldn't follow a lot of the monetary jargon. Other than that, I think this is one of the most highly day-to-day detail filled books I've ever read: what someone did for morning, for lunch, what games they played. One really gets the feeling of know some of these individuals and that's not necessarily a good thing - it is a tail of corporate greed and the ruthlessness and ambition of some of the BSC members is appalling. The book does a really good job of explaining - in its thoroughness of character detail - why the markets can get so unfathomable and how there is such a disconnect between the haves and the have-nots. One extremely telling point was when the BSC people were complaining about a deal of $2/share when "... the building itself was worth $10/share!" and how they should *at least* get that, don't cha know!. Hmmmm... tell me again about how the 1000s of everyday people who got *at least* the fair market value for their homes when they were foreclosed on - oh yeah, didn't happen. But wow, the compensations, the retirement packages, the perks, the self-righteous "I deserve that!" attitude, the intense ladder climbing - you really really get a good feel of that from this book and you start to understand how corrupt these guys really are. So even though the money stuff got me lost I got a feeling of "knowing" the lives of Wall Street money men (and back then they were almost exclusively men)

I recommend this book but with the warning that it is so highly detailed, it sometimes gets you lost in the day to day minutiae - if that's your thing, this is a great book. ( )
  marshapetry | Feb 6, 2016 |
The level of detail in this book is amazing and probably only of interest to a very few in the world. The reason? So much of what's covered pertains to finance. Cohan covers every single significant event (and even the no-so-significant ones) as they pertained to the collapse of Bear Stearns and much of Wall Street in 2008. If you ever need your family life written, Cohan is more than able to do the job. House of Cards shows clearly how out of touch the men who work on Wall Street really are. They see dollar signs and testosterone as the only measuring sticks in life -it's all the rest which is immaterial.

Barbarians at the Gate still holds the top spot for me as a book that explains the wretched hubris men of finance have. ( )
  RalphLagana | Jan 23, 2016 |
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The first murmurings of impending doom for the financial world originated 2,500 miles from Wall Street in an unassuming office suite just north of Orlando, Florida.
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William D. Cohan's superb and shocking narrative chronicles the fall of Bear Stearns and the end of the Second Gilded Age on Wall Street, explaining how a combination of risky bets, corporate political infighting, lax government regulations and truly bad decision-making wrought havoc on the world financial system.

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