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When Genius Failed Audiobook

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 (885 )
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4.1 (432 )
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Performance
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  •  
    tyler 11-28-14
    tyler 11-28-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Terrible Narration!!!!"

    The author narrates. He speaks in 5-6 word bits, breaking the text up needlessly. And he uses a tone of voice that makes it sound like he's reading a bedtime story to a 3-year-old. Extremely irritating!!! By the end of an hour I couldn't take it anymore.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    luke 09-10-14
    luke 09-10-14
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    "A fun listen"
    If you could sum up When Genius Failed in three words, what would they be?

    An interesting slice of economics history...


    What other book might you compare When Genius Failed to and why?

    I don't read this type of book very often.


    What aspect of Roger Lowenstein’s performance would you have changed?

    Another reader... I guess.


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

    Did not have one those moments...


    Any additional comments?

    worth a credit..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah New York, New York 03-10-14
    Noah New York, New York 03-10-14
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    "A real-life Icarus story."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    There are a few histories of Wall Street that really stand out. The others are mostly written by Michael Lewis. So that puts this book in rarified company.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The humanization of the two protagonists, John Meriwether and Larry Hillebrand.


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

    The final defeat of Hillebrand, when he's forced to finally open his books for the world to see, was moving. He's not a likable character, but you really feel sympathy for him in that moment.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 10-07-13
    Lori 10-07-13 Member Since 2015

    Working mom (HRMgr/healthcare) in western Michigan. INTJ. Red Vines. Disneyfreak.

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    "The Ten Year Heads Up"

    What to make of the fact that the dress rehearsal for the sub-prime bailout occurred in September 1998? What did we know then that we did not learn from? How can we prevent this from recurring or are we simply doomed to continue this? So many questions ...

    Roger Lowenstein narrates his own book. I'm from the midwest and so, to me, he sounds distinctly northeastern. It takes a bit of getting used to, but after a couple of chapters, I was fine.

    The story was a bit overwrought, especially in the middle. But I was very engaged in the early beginnings of the creation of something so spectacularly successful as Long Term Capital Management, the incredibly quick demise, and whether we learned anything from the whole thing.

    Lowenstein does a fine job describing some fairly complex concepts such as bond arbitrage, volatility, and leverage. It helped me grasp many of the underpinnings. The characters were incredibly interesting to me - each genius and mad in their own individual way. They seemed to simultaneously bring out the best and the worst in each other.

    This book is especially interesting in light of the subprime and global financial crises of 2008-2010. I can't help feeling as though we failed to heed a lesson.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Wearne Silver Spring, MD United States 09-30-12
    Evan Wearne Silver Spring, MD United States 09-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "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 2011

    Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?

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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
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    "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 2013
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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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    "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 2014
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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

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