by Hillary Davis ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1998
Do you think that Wall Street traders and their ilk, hustling worldwide, are greedy and heartless predators? Not so, says Davis, a trader herself. Davis offers a more sanguine view in this brief, sometimes idiosyncratic survey of a mysterious business. It's a business that regulates ""the prices of everything that touches our daily life,"" one that is being transformed by technology. Still, it's a calling founded simply on each player's personal reputation. Instant transactions aren't memorialized by written contracts; it's just a trader's word in the traders' world. Zillions are moved by a click on a computer screen or a fast phone call. Certainly there are the rare rogue traders, and Davis comments on some of them--like the lad who brought down venerable Barings, the bank that is the author's former London employer. In most of the disasters, the firms' managers had no idea what their traders were up to; the arbitrage practice had become too sophisticated for the bigwigs (not mentioned: the Salomon Treasury debacle, for which senior management took the fall). Certainly, the traders' trade is increasingly complex. Those on the sell side (the brokers who have made the historic amounts of compensation) and on the buy side (the institutional traders who are starting to earn major bucks, too) are more than ever reliant on computer programs and cybercommunication. Nevertheless, it still takes smarts and luck, as well as stamina (which is why youth rules), to win in what current events may yet show to be ultimately a zero-sum game. Davis sketches a brief history of the business and interviews several high-octane players to provide a picture before the current bear market, Women, having learned to cuss like the men, take their part. Here's ""color"" (the traders' term for background information) in the form of an inside view of a secret world. Oddly pertinent as the world's market-based economies are under siege.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998
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