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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

347
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 146 reviews
  • 151 ratings
  • 646 titles in library
  • 76 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
125

  • Getting Started in Options

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Michael C. Thomsett
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (41)

    Getting Started in Options arms you with the facts you need to make informed decisions about choosing stocks, tracking options, selling calls, understanding and controlling risk, and much more.

    K. Harirchian says: "'Getting Started in Options' is just that"
    "A well-titled book, a good first intro"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this a good entry point to the subject. I like the clarity and logic of the explanations -- a sort of walk through facets of simplified trader-logic. However, it is only a beginning, and after learning this I would not "get started" in the sense of tossing myself to the tender mercies of counter-parties who know the more modern math tools to create the other side of deals. Continuing the learning curve about that, I am happy to see at audible a nice popularization to start on, "Pricing the Future: Finance, Physics, and the 300-Year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By William D. Cohan
    • Narrated By David Aaron Baker
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were the weapons of choice at Wall Street investment bank Lazard Frères & Co. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

    PHIL says: "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    "Gossipy, shallow; but with limited virtue"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was dismayed. I liked other works by this author. Here was an opportunity to map out a structure of these talented people networking, climbing, digging into the lattices of this massive corporate economy and culture at top levels, yet oddly, in the manner of old fashioned merchant bankers. Instead, we hear plenty of these haughty continental type fellows as if suddenly vaulted to some high in-group club which is itself only sketchily portrayed. Then the mutual sniping and titillating parts start. This cries out for more substantive detail. We hear plenty about every superficial aspect of the culture, such as the backward (or merely continental?) barbaric approach to many of the women working there. (Grotesque, making me happy I'm not there, even now.) OK, this is a valid part of the sociological descriptive approach, but hey, this is a book on banks, a finance work, not a brothel or a work of titillation. Or is it? A little is okay, but it this level of stuff can't carry the story at all. Ditto for the media wars surroundilng the infighting. There is mild utility to learning this, as it is a feature of NYC finance and power games, OK. It did feature into the story. Again, I differ with the author's weighting of these aspects as a driver of the book. If this kind of snipy muck (some might see Shakespearean tragedy, but I would say, without the pacing and soaring language; more conducive to needing an air sickness bag) satisfies the target audience, well, congrats to the author and publishers. I am a big finance book consumer, but apparently not this target audience. (I compare "High Financier" by N. Ferguson which had some similar features but gave me a better feel for the core of the matter: the deals being done, the challenges bested. Maybe it is too slow for some contemporary listeners' tastes.) There is some useful history here, some observations of our recent times, and it's not a total waste of time. Hence two stars, not one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Eswar S. Prasad
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The U.S. dollar’s dominance seems under threat. The near collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008-2009, political paralysis that has blocked effective policymaking, and emerging competitors such as the Chinese renminbi have heightened speculation about the dollar’s looming displacement as the main reserve currency. Yet, as The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance.

    PHIL says: "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    "The best currency in a shaky neighborhood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One needn't agree with the thesis here (that the dollar has reasons to remain the world's primary reserve currency for some time to come) to benefit from this smart tour of big issues in global money. The US dollar's demise has been proclaimed countless times, and for a host of reasons (many reviewed here), it keeps bobbing up to the surface for another interval as the most important global currency. Much of it might be called its enduring network externalities -- it serves needs no other currency can -- and the other contenders for various reasons haven't shown themseves ready for prime time. This continues to provide Americans an "exorbitant privilege" (a French politician's onetime term of resentment), so it is worth focusing on -- as life could be quite different in a world of faded dollar hegemony. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts, while being mentally limber for what might come next. Here I also sensed a subtext -- the USA has some unique qualities of internal robustness and stability (sometimes despite what seems like our best efforts) that this enduring buoyancy reflects. We are still in many ways a haven from world chaos, for people as well as their money.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David B. Ruderman
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Experience the evolution of all of Jewish life during the 10 critical centuries from its rabbinic foundations in late antiquity until the dawn of modernity in the 17th century. During this time, Judaism was forever affected by its encounters with the surrounding social, economic, political, and intellectual environments of both medieval Islam and Christendom. As a result of those encounters, new pathways of philosophical inquiry and religious spirituality would be formed. The Hebrew language would find new ways of artistic expression. And the role of Jews in the life of the surrounding community would be changed forever.

    PHIL says: "Starts slow and abstract, but improves"
    "Starts slow and abstract, but improves"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Early on, I caught myself thinking, it took all those words to explain that fairly simple philosophical point? But it grew on me. As with many professors who are somewhat passionate about their topic, the chapters tend to start with a fairly level voice delivery and to pick up in pitch and insistence as the lecture progresses, sometimes hitting my ears with a bit of shrillness. (I hope my lectures are not like that, but I'm afraid they are!) By the time we arrived at the Rhine Valley and the Christian world, I found the explanations moving quite well, with a fine mix of doctrine and events on the ground. Things were worse under some Christians from an earlier date than I had thought (not that I'm a scholar of this). Much insight is gained about more recent history and culture -- the roots go deep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Sceptred Isle: The Twentieth Century, Volume 5, 1979-1999

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher Lee
    • Narrated By Anna Massey, Robert Powell
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Volume 5, covering the years 1979-1999, looks at the Thatcher years, the Falklands War, and the greatest ever Royal wedding. Beyond Britain, Mikhail Gorbachev was influencing world affairs and, back in the nation's capital, a dome was being built to celebrate the approaching millennium.

    PHIL says: "I hope the rest of the series is this great"
    "I hope the rest of the series is this great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am patching up my knowledge of some history I lived through, but pretty blithely at the time. This knit the whole story of those 20 years together terrifically, connectilng dots between what I heard back then as mere fragments. Next stop: the late 1700s. I hope it is handled as deftly. The length is just right too, to give a brisk history refresher but not to bog down, as a few lengthy British histories I've read have done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Laurence Tribe, Joshua Matz
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    From Citizens United to its momentous rulings regarding Obamacare and gay marriage, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has profoundly affected American life. Yet the court remains a mysterious institution, and the motivations of the nine men and women who serve for life are often obscure. Now, in Uncertain Justice, Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show the surprising extent to which the Roberts Court is revising the meaning of our Constitution.

    Jean says: "An unbias view of the Court"
    "Thoughtful, yet very listenable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my favorite Supreme Court book of several seen over the years. I have the utmost respect for the authors' careful exploration of many facets of issues of great importance. Those with pre-set knee-jerk views might be disappointed here or there, but I'll warrant they'll emerge the better for it. I found my own views challenged in the best possible ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Terror, Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Loretta Napoleoni
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In Terror Incorporated, Loretta Napoleoni maps out the arteries of an international economic system that feeds armed groups the world over. Chasing terror money, she takes the reader from CIA headquarters to the smuggling routes of the far East, from the back rooms of Wall Street to hawala exchanges in the Middle East.

    PHIL says: "Eye-opening"
    "Eye-opening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book walks through stories of a lot of individuals and their money and logistical arrangements on the way to major terror operations. The narrator has the perfect sober, rich voice and gravitas to deliver this content.

    The book really shines when the author pulls back and gives us an overview of the evolving world political economy after the fall of the USSR. While the west was congratulating itself, economic infrastructure all over the former communist-dominated world was withering. Where there had been political discipline (bad as it might have been in its way) and such things as regional arrangements allocating resources such as water, now these little atomized separatist groups were falling back into their enclosed, impoverished little zones. There were huge vacuums opening up in societies, on many levels, with large numbers of low-opportunity youths milling around, with nihilism, desperation and radicalization hovering and ready to take root. Along come the "right" people with money, an ideology, and bingo! Large swaths of the developing world fall into this atomized militia type condition, a breeding ground for radicalism. This is masterfully portrayed along with lots of particulars.

    This history of course lacks the very latest round of developments, but gives very meaningful history. As a part of my recent studies into money laundering and offshore finance, I was curious about the bank, BCCI, and this history goes that far back (into the 80s), This sort of context vastly improves my understanding of what is happening now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gods at War: Shotgun Takeovers, Regulation by Deal, and the Private Equity Implosion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Steven M. Davidoff
    • Narrated By Jay Snyder
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    An engaging exploration of modern-day deals and deal-making. Gods at War details the recent deals and events that have forever changed the world of billion-dollar deal-making. This book is a whirlwind tour of the players determining the destiny of corporate America, including the government, private equity, strategic buyers, hedge funds, and sovereign wealth funds.

    PHIL says: "Private equity, M&A from a historical-legal view"
    "Private equity, M&A from a historical-legal view"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book delivers nicely on its title. The editing sequence was a little odd, inasmuch as we get a lot of history before, some 4/5 of the way through, we go through a flurry of actual laws and regulations. I was fascinated at the perspective of the 2008 meltdown and the responses of Paulsen, Bernanke, Geithner and company as "shotgun takeovers" and "regulation by deal." I see it, from that perspective, as a virtuoso performance by these fellows, given the situation they found themselves in. (Their arguable misfeasance on the way there is a whole different discussion, not in this book.) To think, once upon a time, it was J. P. Morgan who pulled such bravura moves, and we institutionalized that power into public servants. Very interesting stuff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By James Langton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (19)

    In this groundbreaking new biography, based on more than 10,000 hitherto unavailable letters and diary entries, best-selling author Niall Ferguson returns to his roots as a financial historian to tell the story of Siegmund Warburg, an extraordinary man whose austere philosophy of finance offers much insight today.

    PHIL says: "A gem, if you are interested in these topics"
    "A gem, if you are interested in these topics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By "these topics" I mean mid-20th century Europe (including UK), the related financial history, merchant banking, and the actions and plight of German Jews in those settings. I not only have these interests in abundance, but also benefitted in having just finished "The Warburgs" by Ron Chernow. That book, which tells the saga of the whole sprawling family from the 1800s into the 1990s, across Europe and the USA, but in a less strictly finance-centric way, gave a perfect backdrop and introduction to the times and characters.

    It was Siegmund I best related to, for better or worse, as I am a similarly dour, restrained intellectual type. Yet he came vividly alive in the crossing of boundaries, internationally and in banking business, and the bold creativity of his buildup of his own establishment, alongside the more staid doings of his continental and US relatives. He flowed across borders with the facility and liquidity of the namesake of one of his trading arms, Mercury (from whose name the word "commerce" also comes). (Digging further into this type of personality can be done in Jean Shinoda Bolen's "Gods in Everyman," relating to the Hermes-Mercury character.) And, fittingly, Siegmund could be rather ethically limber, for example, willing to deal in Germany postwar and with Germans some of his relatives considered objectionable. He was a very driven man, very limited in other departments of his life, as in his very disciplined marriage; he had to show the world and his doubting family members (in the rivalrous Hamburg branch of the family) his importance. And he did, aplenty: he was a great shaper of postwar finance on that side of the Atlantic. Author Niall Ferguson shows all this with a graceful precision, digging into deals and details at a level Mr. Chernow (for all the quality of his book) did not. Mr. Ferguson's bigger tomes are right at the sweet spot for my interests: he has precision and thoroughness delivered in that crackling English prose I so love. And the narrator is spot on for the job too: ideally British but shifting into convincing German accents to highlight other speakers' own words. Bravo!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Timothy F. Geithner
    • Narrated By Timothy F. Geithner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (237)
    Performance
    (212)
    Story
    (208)

    On January 26, 2009, during the depth of the financial crisis and having just completed five years as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner was sworn in by President Barack Obama as the 75th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Now, in a strikingly candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, Geithner takes listeners behind the scenes during the darkest moments of the crisis.

    Jean says: "Gripping"
    "A courageous centrist path, lucidly told"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This did not change what I have found unsatisfying about the major players pre-2008 (which included Tim Geithner as NY Fed boss): how this regulatory system drifted over time such that this outlandish other-worldly asset bubble and psychological mania got so raging across the whole financial business and society, without much substantive challenge by the watchmen. That lapse in leadership was beyond bizarre, and I have never heard a credible explanation. (I would say, a partial explanation is offered here: greed and stupidity are not against the law here.) That said, once things started slipping way out of control, some smart and steady hands grabbed the tiller, Geithner's included. There was incredible creativity involved, in the face of vast uncertainty and gale-force political complainers on all sides. It is great to have a front row seat here with the decision-makers. I am still amazed how we managed not to slide into Great Depression 2 (and potentially in my view, World War 3, which was the sequence the last time something this bad happened). George W. Bush had for once the good sense to get out of the way and let the pros call the shots. Tim Geithner is the kind of person I want in oversight positions: he understands the excruciating difficulty to chart a good (or at least, least-bad) course, understanding all the fallout that will happen, and hang on while the cheap shots come raining in from the extremes on both sides. His explanation of the thinking behind the policies here is clear and thoughtful. I am on many things a few degrees politically to his right, but I applaud his performance and his careful walk-through of it here. He defends himself to the degree one might expect of anyone, but he admits mistakes too.
    Have you wondered why Goldman Sachs was paid 100 cents on the dollar on its AIG CDS contracts? Why punitive haircuts were not handed out all around? Find out here. I for one generally accept Geithner's explanations. Look, our system is widely intact and functioning today. Wow. It didn't happen by accident. There was a method to what seemed like madness, or corruption. Here it is, chronologically laid out. Also, there is a quick explanation of Dodd-Frank and a critique of its strengths and weaknesses. We are not out of the woods yet, and never will be. Lastly, I'm glad he read this. He is not a pro narrator, but it is ideal in his own voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Big Picture Economics: How to Navigate the New Global Economy

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Joel Naroff, Ron Scherer
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    The world is awash with economic information. Governments release reports. Pundits give their interpretation on television. And the stock market may go its own way, confusing everyone. How can you better understand what it means for you? Big Picture Economics, a new book by award-winning columnist and futurist Joel Naroff and veteran journalist Ron Scherer, says the thread that ties everything together is "context".

    PHIL says: "I am a bit underwhelmed, but not dismayed"
    "I am a bit underwhelmed, but not dismayed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I would retitle this, "lots of anecdotes in recent economic times, and maybe some useful stories and terminology for general background understanding." I do not find the repeated term "context" which jumps up willy-nilly, to lend any useful rigorous meaning or traction to understanding the twists and turns that have occurred. But for a person who has not followed this area closely over the last several years, there may be some useful info here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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