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Chasing Goldman Sachs: How the Masters of the Universe Melted Wall Street…

af Suzanne McGee

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
10710194,242 (4.03)119
You know what happened during the financial crisis--now it is time to understand why the financial system came so close to falling over the edge of the abyss and why it could happen again. Journalist Suzanne McGee examines the forces that transformed Wall Street from its traditional role as a capital-generating and economy-boosting engine into a behemoth operating with only its own short-term interests in mind and with reckless disregard for the broader financial system. Wall Street is as important to the economy and the overall functioning of our society as our electric and water utilities--but it doesn't act that way. The financial system has been saved, but as long as the mind-set of "chasing Goldman Sachs" lingers, it will not have been reformed. As banking undergoes its biggest transformation since the Great Depression, McGee shows where it stands today and points to where it needs to go next.--From publisher description.… (mere)

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Goldman Sachs (Subject)
  LOM-Lausanne | May 1, 2020 |
Both morally and in dollar signs, CHASING GOLDMAN SACHS makes perfectly clear the unfathomable distribution of wealth and power in The United States.

Knowing little more about Wall Street other than that it somehow controls stock and bonds, that it was supposed to be tightly regulated after the financial disasters of 1929,
that George Washington became President on a balcony, that Hamilton had a law practice, and that, with The Stock Exchange, it makes NYC our financial capital, it was
illuminating to learn that Wall Street managed to evolve itself from offering a genuine investment service to businesses, corporations, and ordinary peasants into a corrupt, greedy,
super high risk taking behemoth rival. It could then monopolize and make money just for itself.

I read a ton of information which I never knew existed and which my accountant brother will love and help me puzzle out.

It would be welcome to see this meticulously researched book updated from 2010 to cover 2008's horrific loss and the ongoing impact of the sub prime loan homes
and savings of many middle and lower class Americans of all races. In WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER, Ta-Nehisii Coates deals with how this affected Chicago's North Lawndale population.

As welcome would be Suzanne McGee's insights into how the formerly unimaginable horrors of the trump administration have barely started to impact our economic and financial sectors:
the stock market appears to rise as trump's IQ decreases.

Additions to a new edition would be charts, graphs, and a glossary! ( )
  m.belljackson | Dec 2, 2018 |
Loads of financial information about the decline of Wall Street firms. Hillary is a great narrator. She has a voice that made me keep going through the book even when I had trouble understanding who was who. Still a good coverage of a very important topic. ( )
  pm9531 | Apr 19, 2011 |
Unlike the Wall Street disaster of the past few years, occurring in part, because of the highly risky investments which they sold, there is nothing risky about making a small investment in Suzanne McGee’s Chasing Goldman Sachs. This comprehensive explanation of the financial meltdown will payback with dividends.
In her book, Ms. McGee chronologically lays out the events which allowed the financial meltdown of the first decade of the new millennium. I have read the newspapers, studied the magazines and listened to “the experts” but none of them have been more clear, concise and succinct than Ms McGee’s expose. She reminds the reader that the meltdown didn’t happen suddenly but elapsed over many years with people from many different stations of life, doing many things they should not have been doing. When lapses in judgment melded and greed overcame fiduciary responsibility the events came to fruition and ruin.
Chasing Goldman Sachs is written in a language that a novice may understand yet does not dumb down the experts. I truly enjoyed this book and feel all the wiser for have read it, many times re- reading passages that left me in disbelief.
It is only unfortunate that a glossary is not included for ease of reference to technical terms.

Disclaimer: Suzanne McGee is a friend on LibraryThing. I've tried to be objective and think I've mostly succeeded. Ms. McGee has not seen this review before my posting it. ( )
8 stem Carmenere | Sep 26, 2010 |
This is a book that lives up to its promise--to explain what caused the near total collapse of the financial system in 2008. Basically, two separate trends collided head-on and now we're all dealing with the fall-out. The first was the transformation of Wall Street firms from private partnerships that focused on building long-term relationships with their clients to publicly-owned behemoths whose primary concern was earning the maximum short-term profits for their shareholders by doing increasingly risky deals. The second trend was the steady erosion of financial regulations by politicians in Washington. Or, as the author more colorfully refers to it, Wall Street ended up having a love affair with extreme banking at the same time it had no effective adult supervision.

There is alot of food-for-thought in this book. Some of the things I found interesting were the discussions of (a) the historical antecedents of today's problems (e.g. the elimination of fixed trading commissions in 1975 which forced Wall Street firms to look for other ways to make profits and the change in attitude about risk-taking when investment banks started to "go public" in the 1970s and make decisions with other people's money--their shareholders); (b) the problems with trying to manage risk (e.g. the difficulty of predicting events that have never happened before, the misplaced faith in computer risk models, the incentive pay structures that rewarded risk-taking, and the lower pay and stature of risk managers and regulators); and, (c) the argument that the directors and officers of Wall Street firms were actually fulfilling their legal (fiduciary) duty to their shareholders by earning the largest possible profits in the shortest possible time.

One of the author's main points is that the core function of Wall Street used to be primarily that of a financial intermediary--bringing together those that needed capital ("Main Street" businesses) with those who had it (investors). She compares this function to that of a utility, one that "enables capital to flow more or less smoothly through the economy the way power flows through the electrical grid or water through a muncipality's water and sewer system." (p. 22) Of course, utilites are not particularly profitable and are heavily regulated, neither of which Wall Street wants to be. Wall Street may have looked something like a utility in the past but what we ended up with is more akin to a casino, where Wall Street firms were mostly focused on making profits (i.e. chasing Goldman Sachs). The question now is can we create a new Wall Street that is accountable to the entire financial system and not just itself.

I've read several books about the economic collapse in 2008 and this one is the best so far. It's well-written, interesting and informative, and I found it to be a balanced account of the myriad events, people and influences that contributed to the current recession. And mercifully, for me, it didn't go into all the intricacies of Wall Street's esoteric financial products (which I can never entirely follow). I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants an understandable explanation of why things went so wrong on Wall Street and am giving it 4 1/2 stars. (The only things that would have made it better for me would have been the inclusion of a glossary and a timeline because there are so many different pieces of information to keep track of.) ( )
9 stem phebj | Aug 16, 2010 |
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Note to Lloyd Blankfein: Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if a cardiac surgeon were paid like a Wall Street banker in 2006.

For each operation, the doctor would earn more, regardless of the risk to the patient, writes Suzanne McGee in “Chasing Goldman Sachs.” The greater the risk, in fact, the higher the fee. Should half his patients die the next year, the hospital might dismiss the surgeon -- with a golden handshake. He could then take up a post elsewhere or set up his own practice.

“Wall Street doesn’t have to purchase malpractice insurance,” says McGee in this disturbing account of how the big boys ran amok and began blowing up the money grid. “There isn’t even a sense that there is a duty of care to the ‘patient’ -- whether that patient is the client or the financial system.”

McGee, a contributing editor at Barron’s, isn’t out to bury Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or Blankfein, its chief executive officer. Her goal is, rather, to show how Wall Street bankers became preoccupied with their own short-term interests and drifted away from their raison d’etre -- to funnel capital from investors to companies that need it.

...

The peril wasn’t that Goldman (Sachs} became “a great vampire squid,” as a Rolling Stone writer so delicately phrased it. The firm actually became something much more dangerous: a seductively successful Pied Piper, luring other banks down a path that led to destruction.

Its profitability was the envy of its peers, McGee writes: Trying to match Goldman’s return on equity was the only way for rivals to pacify their restive shareholders and increase their personal wealth.

This isn’t what Wall Street was built for, she reminds us. The financial system is a public utility, akin to a power company or the water system, no matter how much the comparison makes bankers bristle, she says. Turn the tap, you expect water. Flip a switch, you get light. The money grid works the same way: It connects buyers to sellers and lenders to borrowers, making it possible to raise capital to repair roads and finance companies.

McGee walks us through the trends that led us to this day, notably the shift away from private partnerships, which limited risk. Going public allowed executives to place big bets with other people’s money; it also exposed them to shareholders anxious to match Goldman’s ROE, as the admittedly unpopular Philip Purcell discovered at Morgan Stanley. His ouster as CEO in 2005 reflected his aversion to taking big balance-sheet risks, McGee writes.

“We watched, we listened, and we all learned from that,” McGee quotes one banker as saying.

This is an exhaustive piece of reporting that draws on interviews with some 200 people whose lives are tied to the Street, from hedge-fund managers and venture capitalists to private-equity dealmakers and corporate executives.
 
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You know what happened during the financial crisis--now it is time to understand why the financial system came so close to falling over the edge of the abyss and why it could happen again. Journalist Suzanne McGee examines the forces that transformed Wall Street from its traditional role as a capital-generating and economy-boosting engine into a behemoth operating with only its own short-term interests in mind and with reckless disregard for the broader financial system. Wall Street is as important to the economy and the overall functioning of our society as our electric and water utilities--but it doesn't act that way. The financial system has been saved, but as long as the mind-set of "chasing Goldman Sachs" lingers, it will not have been reformed. As banking undergoes its biggest transformation since the Great Depression, McGee shows where it stands today and points to where it needs to go next.--From publisher description.

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