I like the coverage of a few recent years month by month in the mind of a nimble-thinking fund manager, "thinking aloud." I could compare his real-time thoughts to the actual market and other events of the time, with the ability to benchmark him (alongside my own remembered thoughts and investment calls) against the way things actually turned out. His thinking is peppered with useful little phrases and concepts that doubtless will find their place in my thinking. Too many first-person books are so heavily edited after the fact that we miss the flawed, oh-so-humanly-imperfect (if well spoken) thinking process (of any person trying to guess the future) in all its glory. Mr Biggs was consistently very hedging in his thinking and remarks, and his commitments of funds, so there is no earth-shaking oracular proclamation or "killing" made here (as in the darts thrown at boards, and sheer noise-trading luck, a less tutored investor might wish to hear and be thrilled by). It is more the deliberations of a prudent man and fiduciary, concerned with intelligently balancing a portfolio of his own and other peoples' money in the face of uncertainties we can well remember. I don't feel so dumb after reading this (compared to whatever I may have held of an internal fake image of the world-beating fund manager). His was a wise voice and I regret his passing.
I have many business students from various of these countries, and I feel much better informed about the settings they are coming from. Of course, a book this short must be a summary, but I appreciate having a much better sense of the identities of these individual nations/emirates. It is certainly not "one size fits all."
I like this series. This one does not disappoint. I teach business law, and wanted a nice walk-through just as a refresher and to catch some details I might have left out of my lectures. This author seems well-informed and bright, and has put together a good succinct presentation. The perspective seems to be primarily from Britain, but many can benefit, even US locals. I am also raising the quality of the international aspects of my course by listening to various of the international versions of this series.
This version adds almost nothing to the movie, and it lacks the imagery of the movie. I read the unabridged version long ago (before the movie came out) and enjoyed it. But this seems chopped down too much.
I am not Jewish. However, my scholarly interests mix so often with Jewish history that some closer, focused look at it was inevitable. As a first introduction to some of the history and background, this work is satisfactory. However, I just bought an actual volume of Talmud and it is a large and complex work, not thoroughly described or demonstrated in this audio. As a legal scholar, I can now see what people are referring to with their common aphorisms about the detail of Talmudic scholarship. I guess all this indicates I am growing more scholarly, and I'm seldom satisfied with a "lite" version of anything anymore. That is not the author's fault here; I think, given the length and scope of this presentation, the author did fine work. But anyone with a serious curiosity about the Talmud might quickly survey this and move on.
Jay Gould was a complex man. No "good time Charlie," not a man to clamor for attention (as was his contemporary and sometime crony Jim Fisk, colorfully described here), Gould had a quieter but doubtless striking focus and intensity. Plenty of light is shed here on the individuals along the way to Gould's apex of wealth, financial dealing and power, and this moves nicely as a human story. I do hear the author being an apologist for Gould, not distractingly so, but it seems to me the desire to rehabilitate the man's reputation sometimes clashes with the story we are being told. Gould is presented as a smart and motivated fellow in a fairly sympathetic light, passing through difficulties not uncommon to his era, but rather suddenly we find him tangling bitterly with a few business partners who come to despise him (rightly or wrongly), and boom! Here he is in New York City and in the middle of every kind of duplicity in the Erie Railroad wars with Fisk, Vanderbilt and others, a viper pit (or perhaps a every exciting gladiatorial arena, depending on one's views) if there ever was one! Only the most clever, swift and tough could survive in that situation, and I wonder where THAT Gould came from, fairly suddenly. But I enjoy this story, and I like the deal details and pace.
I have an informal self-education in this topic. I have, for example, a basic ready definition of what a money market fund is, and how a mutual fund works. This refreshes these basic understandings across the full range of markets, and sharpens them nicely. Alongside definitions we get well-chosen bits of background and history where appropriate. It moves briskly and held my attention well.
I already have this book in print -- which has gorgeous color plates of many of the financial instruments described. If you like works such as Niall Ferguson's 'Ascent of Money,' Jack Weatherford's 'History of Money,' or Philip Coggan's 'Paper Promises' (each available at audible), then you may delight in this. (Niall Ferguson wrote one of the segments here). Here we get financial concepts wrapped in a developmental story, indeed in their stories of origin (as best our scholarship can tell). Those familiar with tales of John Law and Dutch financial innovation will yet find fresh perspectives. But this book digs further back, with translations for example of cuneiform business records from the Near East, a few thousand years BCE (as far back before the year 1 CE, as we are after that date)! The pace slows down a few times, as for example during recitations of terms of several loan deals in that ancient setting. If it bogs down, it doesn't for long, and we are treated to work of many fine authors. But this overall hits the sweet spot for me, between brisk walks through straightforward financial ideas and teminology, scenes of business history (with bits of historical coloration to keep it interesting, but always generally sticking to the point), commentary about meanings and impacts of all this in history, and the fostering of a deeper comprehension of today's financial innovations.
Reading the promo for this book, I dreaded another self-indulgent frat-boy waste of time like "Wolf of Wall Street" (the worst business title I have ever read). I put off purchasing it, but finally previewed the book itself on amazon, and discovered a much more weighty and meaningful work. This is an epic multi-generational narrative of the evolution of these markets and exchanges, and their key personalities, with enough personal bio color (and enough on the legal environment and other technical aspects) to keep me interested. If not absolute top-rank, it is very well worth my time and money. If the topic (as opposed to some shallow depiction of trading as a bunch of cut-ups and their lurid weekend stunts) interests you, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Awhile back I read this in print, and I like the audio even better. This qualifies as popular business history, though it is a mild shade more sober and less tinselly-popular than Michael Lewis's (for example, time is not spent on physical and personal quirks of people unless it very directly feeds the meaning of the story). Yet, we get vivid portraits of these players as distinctive personalities, decision makers and actors in business. It is right at the sweet spot for me. This author can craft a clear, short, tight sentence that will teach the reader a lot about recent/contemporary business and finance in a few words, wrapped nicely into a story that moves briskly. Of course, I am a seasoned business history reader who is very centered there, so the terminology is already familiar. As for the story itself: we get plenty of fly-on-the-wall moments, with just the right nuances, as AIG evolved from its fascinating origins in Shanghai and founder C.V. Starr via the amazing stewardship of Maurice "Hank" Greenberg (a business genius by anyone's measure) into a player in an increasingly whirling environment of modern financial markets. We see the personalities as key to the various steps that wound up in its historic crisis and bailout. The rivalries and battles, the doubts and flareups are here without sugarcoating. And the central toipic of life, as I see it, risk and its pricing and management, is cast in so many different lights. This story has everything I look for in Shakespeare, in modern dress.
I love and devour books constantly, and this one stands out even among the best. Here, blended together, are clear and basic tutorials in business, economics, finance and trading, and plenty of the language in these fields. Grain turns out to be a great way to illustrate these ideas, deals and processes. The author reads her book, which is yet another great facet: it is just right to hear this in the voice, inflections and embodiment of a midwestern person, who grew up in that environment, then went to higher education and sharpened the tools and understandings. Her voice and content are both so wholesomely midwestern, it provides perfect packaging for these themes. This book is right in the mainstream of our economy's thinking and language, and a very fine bit of teaching, yet this is a very singular expression, all its own, unlike anything I've seen. My unqualified thanks to this author for her work.
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