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by Joseph Jett & Sabra Chartrand

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16136-7
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

An intriguing apologia-cum-moral-tale of corporate misdoing, financial manipulation, and overt racism on Wall Street. Jett made big news in 1994 when the trading firm Kidder Peabody, for which he worked, accused him of chalking up $350 million in nonexistent profits and earning himself $8 million in real bonuses as a result. He eventually proved himself innocent legally, although, as a result of a technical ruling, he is not allowed to work as a trader. His downfall, he writes, came about because he worked the books in unorthodox ways, speculating wildly—but, he insists, legally—on turns in the market from day to day, even hour to hour, and using a battery of sophisticated computer-generated formulas to hedge his wizardry. And it came about, he insists further, because his Wall Street employers could not stomach the idea of a successful black man, especially one who dressed well, played with little regard for the rules, and dated white women. Jett writes of a lifetime spent following his soldier father’s insistence that African-Americans’ only hope lay “in economic independence. . . . Only when success, power and inclusion could be determined on an economic scale would blacks have true freedom.” Jett earned impressive credentials, including a graduate degree in chemical engineering from MIT and a Harvard MBA; even so, he found that Wall Street tolerated and even encouraged racist and sexist behavior that put the lie to his father’s faith in self-improvement. (For all that, Jett played the game, lived in a fabulous Manhattan loft, and earned millions.) Jett, with coauthor Chartrand (who co-wrote Flying Safe, Flying Blind with Mary Schiavo), makes his case about corporate racism matter-of-factly and with little appeal to emotion; much of his narrative, in fact, is delivered in the head-spinning language of high finance, and readers without some understanding of how the stock market works will have trouble following him as he ddescribes his financial maneuvers. Convincing and well told, Jett’s story should attract much attention.