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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

331
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 138 reviews
  • 143 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 71 purchased in 2014
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119

  • Getting Started in Options

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Michael C. Thomsett
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (39)

    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
  • 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
    (193)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (169)

    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
  • What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider’s Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Steven G. Mandis
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Steven Mandis charts the evolution of Goldman Sachs from an ethical standard to a legal one and uncovers the forces behind what he calls Goldman's "organizational drift". Drawing from his firsthand experience; sociological research; analysis of SEC, congressional, and other filings; and a wide array of interviews with former clients, detractors, and current and former partners, Mandis exposes the pressures that forced Goldman to slowly drift away from the very principles on which its reputation was built.

    PHIL says: "Nostalgia for muddle-headedness"
    "Nostalgia for muddle-headedness"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Once upon a time there was a setting of relationship finance practiced between neatly stratified teams of jolly fellows (partners with skin in the game) who traded (as much as they traded financial instruments) lively ethical bon mots straight out of Horatio Alger stories around the Good Scout campfire. Each of them felt like a member of a family in their firms, and the warmed-over feelings flowed like glowing marmalade between them. There seemed never a conflict between fiduciary duties to make maximum profits for firm owners, and a willingness to endlessly bend over for counter-parties in arm's-length deals who, after all, in this wonderland of loyalty and bonhommie all around, had relationships that never ended. How wonderful it must have been to survey this landscape where resources were allocated around the richly set dinner tables without the faintest stain of actual competitive pressure. It was (the myth usually recites) that way, if not in old J.P. Morgan's day, then, post-Depression when financiers again had neat silos of privilege fenced off (this time) by New Deal regulations. WAKE-UP CALL: something called later 20th century history happened. It disrupted markets from the inside out, top to bottom, adding energy, if certain new instabilities. That fond older vision (if it existed) unraveled for everyone just like it unraveled for the dinosaurs and the endlessly well-employed horses of the 1800s. So why are we back gazing with wet eyes at this glowing postcard of a bygone day, that couldn't be reconstructed any more than the dinosaurs' habitat could be? Well, some people are just weepy-eyed sentimental. They love to recite at great length their feelings about the caring captains of industry they served with (goes the rhetoric). Oh, please. One cannot drive at full speed with eyes too exclusively and weepily on the rear view mirror. And here, the narrator has a perfect forlorn wistfulness to go with it. I'm concerned with these topics, as a teacher of ethics. I choose a different approach. And, large parts of this book for me are indistinguishable from Charles D. Ellis' earlier history of GS. It had a lot of this sort of tone too, with a bigger (if slightly earlier) historical sweep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Law in American History : Volume 1: From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By G. Edward White
    • Narrated By Graeme Spicer
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    In the first of the three volumes of his projected comprehensive narrative history of the role of law in America from the colonial years through the twentieth century, G. Edward White takes up the central themes of American legal history from the earliest European settlements through the Civil War.

    PHIL says: "A delight for those with deep law interest"
    "A delight for those with deep law interest"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This work is by and for people with long attention spans and some knowledge of (and pretty strong motivation to stay with and learn) legal concepts. As a longtime legal scholar, I can't know what this would sound like to someone without that background. It seems clear as a bell to me, all through. Listening to this, I realize the vastness of the topic, and impossibility of fitting a fully comprehensive treatment into even this larger audiobook. But I came away with much improved knowledge of such topics as: (1) property rights in the colonies, and vis a vis the Native Americans; (2) "justice" as practiced in relation to those natives; (3) shifts in legal doctrines as new ways of business (e.g., canals, railroads, more new business entities appearing and competing, in areas formerly under older-type monopoly charters) emerged along with cities, more courts, and various judicial and other government personalities; (4) the runup to the Civil War, which receives a very detailed legal treatment, along with the status of slaves; and (4) the course of that war. The discussion of the Confederate Constitution (and much of the mentality and doctrines of the South as regards slavery) is but one example of very eye-opening contents of this book. The Dred Scott decision is taken apart in meticulous detail. Of course, some areas get shorter treatment, such as the finer details of government finance, but this book is great value for me. It's not everyone's cup of tea, though. I sure hope the author puts out the promised further volume!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Nomi Prins
    • Narrated By Marguerite Gavin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (13)

    Nomi Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots, and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage, and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. This unprecedented history of American power illuminates how financiers have retained their authoritative position through history, swaying presidents regardless of party affiliation.

    PHIL says: "Good big-picture view, not spoiled by the biases"
    "Good big-picture view, not spoiled by the biases"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story, as the title suggests, plays out across a big canvas, with many participants. It does not conceal its general suspicions of the motives of big bankers, but the motives of self-interested big players in a political economy can profitably be viewed through such a prism. It is balanced enough not to cause me revulsion, which I feel at any crazily filered and tilted story in either direction politically. As an avid reader in this area, plenty of useful detail is to be had here. I would combine this listening with the excellent (more conservative) audiobook 'Fragile By Design,' to get a more overall balanced view. The narration is listenable if not great.
    I appreciate a good plain overview of such areas as design of the the postwar (WW2) global financial world order, the role of private bankers (whose mixing into the New Deal and WW2 US financial structure is well described) and how it fit with the emerging Cold War. This book is very good at sketching the overall structures taking shape in different eras. And true to the title, we see how the various sales pitches made by presidential candidates became the actual arrangements during each of the presidencies. Certainly such personalities as Morgan's Thomas Lamont were huge influences in the governance of this country, though private actors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Mark Stevens
    • Narrated By Mark Stevens
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (31)

    In this dramatic portrait of legendary and, until now, secretive financier Carl Icahn, best-selling business writer Mark Stevens takes us behind the scenes of some of the biggest deals in U.S. corporate history. A fascinating tale with a cast of characters that includes Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, T. Boone Pickens, Dennis Levine, and most of the other key players of the '70s and '80s takeover era, King Icahn is the first biography of the business buccaneer who changed the course of corporate America.

    Jonathan says: "Terrible Narrator"
    "Fine corporate history of a tough arena"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Anyone wondering whether (s)he has the "minerals" (as the Brits say) to jump into the deep end of corporate M&A ought to give this little gem a listening-to. Carl Icahn as depicted here was at the same moment a sharp-elbowed, hugely exasperating, and skillful, brilliant intruder into formerly staid halls of US corporate life. He's the kind of guy who, no matter how you personally feel about him or his ways of business, is going to be here and in your face and involved in your affairs if he wants to be. And he wants to be, if his brilliant tactical multi-level chess-playing mind can see a way to make money. (I imagine he might launch into the shareholder value enhancement speech at this point, which I came to see as often correct. But only consistent with his profits.) Unlike another reviewer, I found the author's street-level east-coast accent a perfect fit here. I was surprised the author got access to Icahn himself, as the author at turns is quite critical of him. That's all for the better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (48)

    A gripping history of banking and the booms and busts that shaped the world on both sides of the Atlantic, The House of Morgan traces the trajectory of the J. P.Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the crash of 1987. Ron Chernow paints a fascinating portrait of the private saga of the Morgans and the rarefied world of the American and British elite in which they moved. Based on extensive interviews and access to the family and business archives, The House of Morgan is an investigative masterpiece.

    Courtney says: "Starts out strong but then fractures"
    "Monumental. Loved it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first Ron Chernow book I have read. Wow, what a storyteller. I presume the reader already has an interest in the overall topic. Mr Chernow has a way of plucking out a telling little detail that sets a scene or gives a sense of a personality marvelously. And he tirelessly delivers this sort of thing across a vast canvas. He did the same with Alexander Hamilton, as I have since heard it. I hope an audio of his book "The Warburgs" is forthcoming.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Charles Kenny
    • Narrated By Tim Andres Pabon
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    America is in decline, and the rise of the East suggests a bleak future for the world’s only superpower - so goes the conventional wisdom. But what if the traditional measures of national status are no longer as important as they once were? What if America’s well-being was assessed according to entirely different factors? In The Upside of Down, Charles Kenny argues that America’s so-called decline is only relative to the newfound success of other countries.

    PHIL says: "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I can't say any of the rosy possibilities imagined here will come true. Who can? However, This book has a fine place, if for no other reason than to make our minds more limber, and help us shake off a bit of the fatigue of fearing the worst. (Look, Britain no longer rules the waves, and its standard of living has been pretty good, in a world where it was forced to assume a less unipolar "top dog" spot in the global community.) In the biggest of all narratives of current history, as I see suggested here, we live in a world where many economies have adopted roughly some version of our way of creating wealth, and I mean by productivity and trade. A China so entwined with the USA and the rest of the globe financially and in trade, is a far better vision than the possible alternatives -- such as a Nazi-type military kleptocracy. It isn't as bad as it could be, this book cogently argues. And I need to imagine in these sorts of directions, to commit some resources to the possibility of good global upsides (not least for the USA) in this type of possible future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Charles W. Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber
    • Narrated By Basil Sands
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers.

    PHIL says: "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    All my main interests converge in this book. The authors' labors came to great fruit in a thorough, eye-opening tour of banking in several countries and centuries. I learned more about the histories of Brazil and Mexico (despite having read other books, and traveled extensively in Mexico) than I ever knew, in a few hours.
    The narratives frame banking systems and their impacts on nations as the products of a "game of bank bargains" in each nation, and in each time-frame, between various interest groups. This makes enormous sense, and is a refreshing departure from partisan screeds that lazily serve up the same pre-set heroes and villains. I like the authors' approach of blending disciplined narratives showing particular nations' contexts and nuances, in easy-to-follow stories, with some telling numbers. Various institutional weaknesses are highlighted, or flawed bargains, as sources of trouble: opposing groups can be, at best, powerful checks and balances on each other, and often these balances have become too lopsided, and banking crises are sure to follow. In this light, the collapse of banking systems, currencies, and governments makes clear sense. The result of this approach: deeper knowledge of history and sharper thinking and analysis. And all this is delivered in an accessible, listenable form.
    Some with a brittle partisan pre-loaded set of desired answers (on either side) may be perturbed at turns. Some on the left will be uncomfortable when a microscope is turned onto the banker-urban-populist bargains in the runup to USA's 2008 subprime credit bust. But by the time this story is detailed, we are already well briefed on a history of unstable banking bargains in US history, among various players. This made me look with a more appraising and cynical eye at the smooth cartoons of rosy all-around public benefit and skillful crisis management produced by politicians (on either side) as their self-serving draft of history, and as an apologia for their various manipulations of banking systems.
    USA's set of bank bargains, and their outcomes and present state, can be compared, apples-to-apples, with Britain, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Germany, and more. (This is, however, primarily a history book, not specifically an update of very current events.) This book stands alongside any I've ever read in these various sub-fields. I agree with the likes of Niall Ferguson that finance gives key understandings of history, when done with smarts and disciplined scholarship. This book tells me more about why nations are where they are, than any other I can think of.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Wall Street: A History, Updated Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Charles R. Geisst
    • Narrated By Stephen McLaughlin
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    Wall Street is an unending source of legend - and nightmares. It is a universal symbol of both the highest aspirations of economic prosperity and the basest impulses of greed and deception. Charles R. Geisst's Wall Street is at once a chronicle of the street itself - from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant - and an engaging economic history of the United States, a tale of profits and losses, enterprising spirits, and key figures that transformed America into the most powerful economy in the world.

    PHIL says: "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read dozens of books in this genre. Yet, here I had many "gee whiz" moments, understanding in new ways (and sometimes clearly for the first time) how many of these dots connected between personalities, groups in society, financial innovations and eras, and various world players affecting, and affected by, Wall Street. The explanations are sensible and clear, and flow sensibly across time and through these overlapping factors. Many books have picked up some segment of this, and I have heard many of these stories in a fragmented way, but these fragmented books tended to wander into details that can lose the thread of important facts and ideas, or to start and stop at arbitrary points. Half a dozen segments here could be books in themselves.
    As for the narration, at first I thought it a bit on the relaxed and plodding side, but as time has passed, I have found it very listenable, and able to hold my attention.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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