STREET GAMES: Inside Stories of the Wall Street Hustle by Alan Lechner

STREET GAMES: Inside Stories of the Wall Street Hustle

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wealth of cautionary tales illustrating the ways and places in which investors can watch their capital shrink--or, less frequently, grow. Lechner--an economist (Brooklyn College) and former securities analyst--reviews many, though not all, of the going market hustles. Among them are commodities speculation, likened to ""the flying trapeze without a net""; listed options (contracts entitling the holder to buy or sell 100-share lots of a common stock at specified prices within a designated period), known among brokers as ""Acapulco Gold"" for the handsome, vacation-subsidizing commissions they afford; and so-called shelters, many of which remain unknown to the general public because ""there are no big TV spots to proclaim that Merrill Lynch is bullish on tax dodges."" Also rapped are generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP); independent auditors of impeccable repute, Lechner points out, uncomplainingly certified the financial statements of such now-departed or wobbly enterprises as Equity Funding, National Student Marketing, Penn Central, and Western Union on the basis of GAAP--In effect, judgment calls that can hoodwink the unwary. Another target is the clubby NYSE whose member firms have responded to the 1975 government mandate on negotiated commissions by upping the ante for retail accounts while granting institutions ever deeper discounts on their trades. On the encouraging side is a respectful profile of Abe Pomerantz, an anti-establishment attorney who has recovered millions for wronged shareholders in class actions against errant corporations. Lechner ignores some current abuses (Ginnie Maes, interest-rate futures), and has a tendency to wander away from main themes to explore side issues; but overall his text promises to give investors not only an entertaining few hours but also a sporting chance in whatever ""street games"" they choose to play.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row