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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

4.2 (638 )
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4.0 (212 )
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  •  
    Jason Pinehurst, NC, United States 01-30-11
    Jason Pinehurst, NC, United States 01-30-11 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    80
    1
    Overall
    "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 a delaney 09-01-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
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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
  •  
    L New York, NY, United States 10-24-07
    L New York, NY, United States 10-24-07 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Liar's Poker Part 2"

    A worthy successor to Lewis's Liar's Poker, following the later story of John Meriwether's big fall. Gives a good look inside the hedge fund industry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elton Los angeles, CA, United States 04-04-07
    Elton Los angeles, CA, United States 04-04-07 Member Since 2004

    I teach Business, Economics, and English at a university in Tokyo. My interests are in politics, economics, and philosophy. I hold a BA in English Literature, and an MA in Political Science.

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    "Interesting"

    I listened to this book as I drove from DC to LA. It only got me to Alabama. LOL!!! It was a really good book though. It's telling about the greed of the financial industry. It reminds us that Wall Street is a smarter man's Vegas with better odds. For all the laissez faire capitalist out there, this book is a wake-up call. There are too many lives tied into the money on Wall Street for it to go loosely regulated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max Hanover, NH, USA 03-27-06
    Max Hanover, NH, USA 03-27-06
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    "Fabuous writing"

    Just a great job, from start to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Highland Park, IL, USA 02-27-06
    Paul Highland Park, IL, USA 02-27-06
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    "Top notch financial history"

    You don't need to know the Black Scholes options pricing model to enjoy this book: The author makes very complex financial history clear and understandable -- no small accomplishment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg North Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-10-06
    Greg North Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-10-06
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    "Terrific"

    I wondered if a 9 hour listen could hold my interest, but it sure did. Absolutely terrific.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rod New York, NY, USA 01-10-05
    Rod New York, NY, USA 01-10-05
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    "Magnificent!"

    Well read, very interesting, very entertaining. You will like this book even if you have very little knowledge of finance as long as you have an interest in the human condition. Get it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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