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When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management | [Roger Lowenstein]

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management

When Genius Failed is the cautionary financial tale of our time, the gripping saga of what happened when an elite group of investors believed they could actually deconstruct risk and use virtually limitless leverage to create limitless wealth. In Roger Lowenstein's hands, it is a brilliant tale peppered with fast money, vivid characters, and high drama.
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Publisher's Summary

John Meriwether, a famously successful Wall Street trader, spent the 1980s as a partner at Salomon Brothers, establishing the best - and the brainiest - bond arbitrage group in the world. In 1991, in the wake of a scandal involving one of his traders, Meriwether abruptly resigned. For two years, his fiercely loyal team - convinced that the chief had been unfairly victimized - plotted their boss' return. In 1993, Meriwether gathered together his former disciples and a handful of supereconomists and proposed that they become partners in a new hedge fund different from any Wall Street had ever seen. And so Long-Term Capital Management was born.

Meriwether & Co. truly believed that their finely tuned computer models had tamed the genie of risk, and would allow them to bet on the future with near mathematical certainty. Thanks to their cast - which included a pair of future Nobel Prize winners - investors believed them. Four years later, when a default in Russia set off a global storm that Long-Term's models hadn't anticipated, its supposedly safe portfolios imploded. In five weeks, the professors went from mega-rich geniuses to discredited failures. The firm's staggering $100 billion balance sheet threatened to drag down markets around the world. At the eleventh hour, fearing that the financial system of the world was in peril, the Federal Reserve hastily summoned Wall Street's leading banks to underwrite a bailout.

Best selling author Roger Lowenstein captures Long-Term's roller-coaster ride in gripping detail. Drawing on confidential internal memos and interviews with dozens of key players, Lowenstein crafts a story that reads like a first-rate thriller from beginning to end. He explains not just how the fund made and lost its money, but what it was about the personalities of Long-Term's partners, the arrogance of their mathematical certainties, and the late-90s culture of Wall Street that made it all possible.

Executive Producer: Dan Zitt
Producer: Paul Ruben
Original cover design Kapo Ng
©2000 by Roger Lowenstein
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This book is story-telling journalism at its best." (The Economist)
"Lowenstein [is] one of the best financial journalists there is¿" (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (577 )
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4.0 (159 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Evan Wearne Silver Spring, MD United States 09-30-12
    Evan Wearne Silver Spring, MD United States 09-30-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good, but not great"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would only recommend this too people who are interested in the details of what happens on Wall Street. The reading of this book was well done, and the story was fine, but it was too narrowly focused for me to enjoy as much as I have other books about Wall Street.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Learning about arbitrage, leverage, and credit during market turmoil.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When LTCM had made obscene returns and started investing in areas they had no business touching.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I had to make myself finish it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 08-23-12
    Tim United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2010

    Not a mainstream reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Number Fetish"

    It's very hard to write a review on financial books because it is very technical, factual, and to the point. In many ways, it is a dull read, as if you are in school, cracking open an algebra book, trying to solve an equation.

    I like these kinds of reads because I enjoy listening what went on in Wall Street and beyond. There are times where you need to take a break from fiction and get something that makes sense with numbers.

    This title meets my number fetish and put this book on top of my list for economy status at the time.

    The author's voice is a bit desirable because instead of a steady voice, you feel like you are going on a roller coaster ride, where the pitch of the reader's voice goes up and down, as if you are driving uphill and then all of a sudden, you are speeding down the hill and then up again.

    Maybe the publisher couldn't afford a professional narrator.

    They should re-record this title with an new reader, but if you are thinking about buying this book, you are not interested in the storytelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Smith Santa Clarita, CA United States 07-14-12
    Christopher Smith Santa Clarita, CA United States 07-14-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "Solid and Portrayl of a Complex Financial Mess!"
    If you could sum up When Genius Failed in three words, what would they be?

    What a mess!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    John William Meriwether was my favorite character because his portrayl within the book as the most sensitive and rife with Greek tragedy. (For those options enthusiasts reading this, the pun was absolutely intended!)


    What about Roger Lowenstein’s performance did you like?

    The reading was crisp on the ear and very easy to listen to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Um, it's about bankers. I cheered when they went down in flames!


    Any additional comments?

    Superb story telling. If you are at all interested in the saga of Long-Term Capital Management, download this and give it a listen. I loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Philadelphia, PA, USA 06-18-12
    Patricia Philadelphia, PA, USA 06-18-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Good story but needed a professional reader"

    The story of LTCM is fascinating, especially for financial scandal junkies who have plowed through books on Enron, Madoff etc. This story is well paced and easy to follow - no small feat given the dry nature of the subject matter HOWEVER, this audiobook could have been greatly improved by a professional reader. Having the writer read it does not do it justice. He has a limited vocal range. The publisher would be wise to re-issue this recording with another narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Hickory, NC, United States 02-27-12
    Evan Hickory, NC, United States 02-27-12 Member Since 2011
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    8
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    "Timeless observations about Wall Street"

    At this point in time with more than a decade past since the failure of Long Term Capital Managment, this book reads more like a historical account of what happened. There are also a great many timeless observations that can also be noted. Sadly many of these have been repeated since.

    Recommended for anyone in or attracted to Wall Street to help them avoid the same pitfalls.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 11-07-11
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 11-07-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Should have hired a narrator..."

    Some authors are great narrators...this guy is just passable. His voice is gruff and nasal and does not hold attention.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Pinehurst, NC, United States 01-30-11
    Jason Pinehurst, NC, United States 01-30-11 Member Since 2010
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    80
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    "Outstanding Book - Poor Narration"

    The book itself is easily worth four stars; both for content and prose. Unfortunately however, the narration was so poor that I had to abandon the audio adaptation after the first few chapters. I ended up reading the hard copy and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a great follow up to Michael Lewis' "Liar's Poker".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael bronxville, NY, United States 09-01-10
    Michael bronxville, NY, United States 09-01-10 Member Since 2009
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    "please ban authors from reading their own books"

    if you ever want to hear what a book read by jim rome (the sports head) would sound like here is your chance. it is so painful to listen to i had to give up which is a shame because the book is pretty well written. it is a great story especially given what has happened to the global financial markets over the last several years. shame more of the market regulators and banks didn't learn anything from the experience

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sunny 05-07-09
    Sunny 05-07-09 Listener Since 2009
    ratings
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    1
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    "Great Primer on Risk"

    I was definitely educated on the terrible harm overconfidence and a coincidentally favorable market can wreak on a portfolio. Excellent story, kept me listening the whole time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rizwan Jamal 05-08-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well Done"

    This is a well done review of all aspects of the LTCM blow-up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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