From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of Liar's Poker and "one of the country's most popular business journalists" (The New York Times) Michael Lewis, comes an engaging new book about Wall Street.
Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Boomerang, The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball, and many others, returns to the financial world to give listeners a ringside seat as the biggest news story in years prepares to hit Wall Street.
©2014 Michael Lewis (P)2014 Simon & Schuster
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
There was a temptation to write my review before I had finished reading. To get there first before other reviewers. This race to be first, however, sometimes requires a pause, a reflection about what speed, transparency, fairness all actually require from individuals and companies. The world of finance is often opaque. Between executing a trade with your broker and another individual accepting that trade through their broker there is a ghost world operating on mico-slices of a second. It is a world filled with algorithms that are all focused on a zero-sum game where the individual seems to lose every single trade. It is a wild west were everyone is getting the shaft, except for the large banks and the high-speed traders.
No one is better at exploring the technical world of money and finance on Wall Street (and in Sports) than Michael Lewis. His talent is most obvious in his ability to spot inconsistencies, absurdities, and flaws in a system and explain them using great characters and narratives that the characters tell themselves. There is no Moneyball without Billy Beane, there is no Blind Side without Leigh Tuohy and Michael Oher, and there is no Liar's Poker without John Meriwether and John Gutfreund. There would also be no Flash Boys without Sergey Aleynikov, Brad Katsuyama and Ronan Ryan.
These characters MAKE this book great. Lewis, however, is what makes this story vibrantly great. He is a master of the New New Journalism narrative, a master of timing, and a master of getting to the story before the other suckers do. And... he appears to do it not just because he is fantastically good at it, but from all appearances because, like Brad Katsuyama, Lewis actually gives a micro-F about making the system deliver on its promise
Before reading Flash Boys, I was only marginally aware of High Frequency Trading and had only a vague notion of what it was. Michael Lewis sheds a lot of light on how it works and who it benefits (hint: not you) and apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was in the dark. HFT is usually portrayed as being a net win for the markets because it provides liquidity. That turns out to be far from the truth. Not only is the liquidity provided by HFT a false liquidity that benefits no one, it turns out it’s just a way to take advantage of having faster access to market data to essentially skim from “normal” market activity. It’s guys with faster connections and privileged access to market data taking your money when you trade while providing you zero benefit whatsoever in return.
You pretty much have to have faith that based on his reputation, Lewis is getting his facts straight since it obviously behooves the HFT traders to obfuscate what they’re doing. If he’s getting it right though, then there’s a lot of crap going down that should shake your faith in the good intentions of majority of stock brokers. Fortunately there is a hint of optimism throughout the book and signs that things are changing, but the situation he describes so well is very much still happening today.
No. Like his last few books this all sounds like something I've read before, almost like a collection of magazine articles edited into one long book. It also feels a little glib, like a Malcom Gladwell book.
Michael Lewis is a very talented writer. If he were to write a longer, more in depth book as he did earlier in his career I would be all over it.
Read Dark Pools by Scott Patterson instead.
It has a guy Brad who is my hero. It reads like a John Grisham novel, but it’s a true story about stock exchanges, high frequency traders, and dark pools. The author is great at explaining complicated technical subjects and telling a good story around them. In the middle of the book I was so angry at the rip-off of investors, I was thinking of writing letters. But by the end of the book, I didn’t have to. Some good things happened. And now, various government agencies are investigating the problems described in the book - SEC, FBI, CFTC, FINRA, NY attorney general, and US attorney general.
The audiobook narrator Dylan Baker was excellent.
Genre: financial nonfiction
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I've got to admit it: I'm one of those people who hand over their money to somebody else to invest, not knowing what the heck happens to it, just receiving statements and feeling baffled. (This causes serious eye rolls from people in the know!) So I was rather hesitant about getting "Flash Boys." Would I be able to follow it? Would it be so far beyond me that I'd be lost?
But I love a good informative, whistle-blowing book, so I used a credit, hoping for the best.
Boy, am I thrilled that I did.
This is about what happens when brilliant minds meld with greed, corruption, lack of conscience and are encouraged to thrive by a distinct silence by those unwilling to say anything, lest they stick their heads out too far. This was absolutely captivating and enlightening. It was easy to follow, but not written simplistically; the reader is assumed to be intelligent enough to grasp complex ideas that are written to grab attention.
To say this book was frightening and enraging is not saying enough. It reminded me of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," but unlike that story, "Flash Boys" has honest-to-God heroes. Whether they're driven by a determination to live by their codes of ethics, by obsessive desires to get to the bottom of things, or by a disgust with what people are doing, these are men who really, really inspire. Not to mention that Michael Lewis simply writes them, their dialogue, as is, fleshing them out and making them real and, sometimes, hilarious.
You'll feel disgust, you'll find yourself biting your nails, you'll cheer and will hope for the best. Truly, I hope IEX does well; it'd be time for the right guys to win
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Michael Lewis has a spellbinding book with drama in a complex highly technical subject of high frequency computerized trading (HFT) in United States stock markets. This is a highly complex field that few understand; Lewis tries to explain it in terms we all can understand. This is a non-fiction book but the author made no effort to be unbiased. According to Lewis the HFT was encouraged by a regulation passed in 2005, which aimed to open large exchanges such as NYSE and NASDAQ to stiffer competition. Instead in Lewis’s view point the stock markets now are rigged by traders who go to astonishing lengths to gain a millisecond edge over their rivals. As an innocent investor presses a button to buy shares, the HFT trader leaps invisibly into the electronic market to profit from the order and thousands of other, siphoning off billions of dollars a year. The author turn it into a human narrative by telling the rise of HFT through the eyes of Brad Katsuyama a former Royal bank of Canada trader who came to Wall Street and was shocked by what he found. The story tells how he found his own exchange (IEX) that is designed to outwit the HFT abuser. If Lewis is right the regulators have failed and allowed a huge financial scandal to take place under their nose and they also have encouraged the deregulation the stock market. One of the subplots is about the role of Russian computer programmers including Sergey Aleynikov an employee of Goldman Sacks who was arrested by the FBI after leaving the bank in 2009 and charged with stealing computer code. Lewis attempts to explain why Aleynikov is not guilty even thought the jury found him guilty. Many of the Wall Street HFT elite are Russian. American’s lack of mathematical skills opened the field to the Russian mathematical and computer professionals I found this to be an absorbing fast paced story and I sure hope that Lewis has exaggerated the problem to make a good story. Dylan Baker did a good job narrating the book.
600 titles and counting.
Michael Lewis makes complex not just understandable but compelling. Flash Boys is another in a long line of books that teach while being thoroughly entertaining. Five stars all around.
Brad is Superman coming to the rescue of the little guy.
Clear strong voice.
Towards the end when he was talking about how Goldman Sachs got on Board.
I don't read a ton of non-fiction but every once in a while a book will come along that peaks my interest. The last one I read was the fantastic 1776 (almost ten books ago for me). However a couple of months back Michael Lewis had an excellent interview on Jon Stewart about his new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt and I instantly went on Audible and purchased it.
Flash Boys is a book about high frequency trading and how it has changed the market completely. I know so little about the way in which the stock market actually works that the idea that a ton of money is being made at fractions of a second was fascinating. But what's even more fascinating is that the people who are considered great traders have no idea what their actually doing and how it all works. A good number of the big executives of financial firms have no idea how HFT (high frequency trading) actually happens. There is this almost laissez-faire attitude about it.
Although I admittedly didn't follow everything, the broader message of this novel was fascinating. A group of traders start to see something is wrong with the market and set out on personal quests to both understand it and bring change to the market. I very much enjoyed Flash Boys and am really glad I read it. It's a really interesting story and one that shed a lot more light on a market I still don't understand but understand far better then i did before reading this book.
This was one of the most interesting and well-told business books I've ever read. The story is remarkable, and the telling is great too. Of course it helps that the facts alone are quite astounding. A great read.
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