Riveting, for those who can persevere through the slack prose.

INFECTIOUS GREED

HOW DECEIT AND RISK CORRUPTED THE FINANCIAL MARKETS

With hours of expert testimony on Enron before Congress under his belt, Partnoy (Law/Univ. of San Diego) also draws on his own experience in selling the arcane contracts known as derivatives to put an investor’s dilemma into perspective.

The author’s previous work, F.I.A.S.C.O.: Blood in the Water on Wall Street (not reviewed), warned of the dangers inherent in financial instruments created for the sole purpose of allowing companies to evade financial regulations. Here, he goes back some 17 years, naming the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Bankers Trust, its CEO and chairman Charles Sanford, and his wunderkind, Andy Krieger, as key figures in the origination of the kinds of investment banking deals and “swaps” that eventually snared firms like Enron, Worldcom, and others. As the banks soon found out, the temptation for companies to place bets on interest or exchange-rate fluctuations in order to fund business ventures as cheaply as possible was irresistible from the start. Partnoy makes it appallingly clear that as these hedges against debt have evolved and become increasingly convoluted, the number of takers who will never understand them, much less profit from them, has continued to swell. For example: one structured note’s terms included a variable based on the number of wins by the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Partnoy makes a telling point in stressing that Enron’s deals and those of other now-scandal-plagued companies were basically not illegal and were all enumerated in annual reports in some occluded form or other. Perhaps the worst news for investors is that in Partnoy’s view the government’s response, last summer’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was “weak and limited” because Congress “had no blueprint” and was merely responding to public pressure to place blame. The markets today are “like Swiss Cheese,” he claims, “with the holes—the unregulated places—getting bigger every year as [rules beaters] eat away at them from within.”

Riveting, for those who can persevere through the slack prose.

Pub Date: April 14, 2003

ISBN: 0-8050-7267-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BEATING THE STREET

More uncommonly sensible investment guidance from a master of the game. Drawing on his experience at Fidelity's Magellan Fund, a high- profile vehicle he quit at age 46 in 1990 after a spectacularly successful 13-year tenure as managing director, Lynch (One Up on Wall Street, 1988) makes a strong case for common stocks over bonds, CDs, or other forms of debt. In breezy, anecdotal fashion, the author also encourages individuals to go it alone in the market rather than to bank on money managers whose performance seldom justifies their generous compensation. With the caveat that there's as much art as science to picking issues with upside potential, Lynch commends legwork and observation. ``Spending more time at the mall,'' he argues, invariably is a better way to unearth appreciation candidates than relying on technical, timing, or other costly divining services prized by professionals. The author provides detailed briefings on how he researches industries, special situations, and mutual funds. Particularly instructive are his candid discussions of where he went wrong as well as right in his search for undervalued securities. Throughout the genial text, Lynch offers wry, on-target advisories under the rubric of ``Peter's Principles.'' Commenting on the profits that have accrued to those acquiring shares in enterprises privatized by the British government, he notes: ``Whatever the Queen is selling, buy it.'' In praise of corporate parsimony, the author suggests that, ``all else being equal, invest in the company with the fewest photos in the annual report.'' Another bull's-eye for a consummate pro, with appeal for market veterans and rookies alike. (Charts and tabular material— not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-75915-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more