CHANGING THE RULES by Muriel Siebert


Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick
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Memoir by the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Although it’s hard to believe from today’s perspective, the venerable Big Board never accommodated a woman on the floor until 1967. Siebert’s purchase of a seat, for $445,000, resulted in an outburst of financier chauvinism recorded here, with a good dose of humor. Siebert, however, is no one-day feminist wonder. Before she gained her seat, she’d become a shrewd and prescient analyst. After cycling through a succession of Wall Street firms and hitting glass ceilings, she started her own, very successful, brokerage house. Governor Hugh Carey of New York, recognizing her financial acumen and probably wanting to score some points with women voters, appointed her New York State’s Superintendent of Banking. This was in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a time of unprecedented inflation and unprecedented interest rates to keep pace with it. Siebert fought a losing battle to keep New York banks from being bought up cheap by gaudy Hong Kong bankers or insidious Saudis. She was more successful in addressing problems in New York’s savings and loans—taking care of problems that, in other states, would lead later to the systematic bankruptcy of the S&L system. She reports on her unsuccessful run, as a moderate Republican, for Daniel Moynihan’s senate seat (Moynihan is one of the few people to elicit unconditioned dislike from Siebert). Unlike James Cramer, whose memoirs of a trading life came out this spring, Siebert does not come across as a person whose very cardiac system is connected to the ups and downs of the Dow.

Siebert sums up her own story best: “I don't know if I’ve ever broken into the Old Boy Network, but I’ve survived without it, and a lot of people who didn’t accept me at first learned to respect me.”

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2002
ISBN: 0-7432-1114-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002