I really enjoyed "The Asylum" by Leah McGrath Goodman, and I highly recommend it. Robert Fass does a fantastic job of delivering the hilarious antics of the NYMEX traders, all of whom had a palpable disdain for rules and law- and enough money to flout both. It's a colorful read, and while you won't walk away understanding the ins and outs of why oil fluctuates so wildly, you will be entertained by the frat-boy antics of the traders, while gaining quite a bit of insight into the energy sector and their supposed regulators.
This book gets five stars from me because of all the good information Markopolos provides about the SEC's incompetence, Madoff's European and off-shore investors, Congressional peacocking, and his clear explanation of how Madoff's supposed split-strike-strategy would have worked, had he been using one. At times though, you can see why some people wouldn't have taken Markopolos seriously, as he recounts checking his car's wheel wells for bombs and calling his police department to receive 24-hour supervision- he comes across as a bit of a nut. While I'm not sure I would want to be friends with Markopolos, he certainly should have been treated with more respect and his message should have been taken more seriously. It was very a thrilling, informative read!
Greg Farrell has produced a solid, meat-and-potatoes narrative on Merrill and its acquisition by Ken Lewis during the financial crisis. Having read several books about the crisis, this one added more insight about the time sandwiched between the departure of Stan O'Neil, the hiring of John Thain, and the purchase of Merrill by BoA. Dan Woren does a great job of narrating, and overall it's a well-researched read that explains the history of how BoA grew from a little-know North Carolina bank into a banking colossus and reiterates the fundamental management problems at Merrill that lead to its demise.
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