The fascinating story behind the machines that trade trillions of dollars every day... In 1968, Michael Goodkin is about to graduate from Columbia University. While his classmates interview for jobs, he daydreams of seeing the world as a man of independent means. Noticing that there are no computers on Wall Street and drawing on his experiences as a failed teenage investor and successful gambler, he has an epiphany: Since no one knows the right price for anything, the only way to beat the market is to make a computer that comes up with the wrong answer faster than the professionals.
And thus begins a journey that takes this provincial Midwesterner from nearly broke to opulent Park Avenue. The Wrong Answer Faster is the story of unintended consequences: how a technique originally created to minimize market risk spiraled into a multi-trillion dollar game with unparalleled risks.
Having founded and sold a firm that changed the world, Goodkin left New York to travel and play backgammon only to return to found another groundbreaking firm, Numerix, a software company that substituted computational physics for econometrics to better manage derivative risk.
This is the story of the computerization of Wall Street by the man at the helm. Packed with keen insights, based almost entirely on poker, backgammon, and game theory, Goodkin's unique insight to the markets is that everyone has the wrong answers. The solution is not to try to beat the market but to come up with the wrong answers faster.
The epic tale of the untold story how one man with a great idea decided not to play the market but to revolutionize the financial world for generations to come by creating the most groundbreaking tool for market players since the ticker tape.
We follow this author from an unspectacular start in high school, to increasing success in college and university, to his starting up cutting-edge businesses. The author has a refreshing matter-of-factness, a lack of annoying vanity and razzle-dazzle. He effortlessly moves from clearly explaining some thinking-through of business and entrepreneurship problems, to their implementation by his finding the right people (with money, technology, legal, accounting, etc.) and doing each deal with them, to personal anecdotes that move the story along. He is willing to describe insecurities, awkward moments and setbacks, and thus to give us a "you are there" feel for his struggles, and his pushing forward, pivoting and adjusting, sweating through tough moments, to build success, at each stage. He doesn't bog down in any backwater of the story. The breezy style and lack of phony grandiosity is refreshing. He was in NYC at the ground floor of computerization of trading; he was the living, breathing, entrepreneurial expression of it, coming from the outside of the big Wall Street firms (though many of these ideas became big profit centers later for some of those firms, and the core of many later, more famliar Wall Street stories). He learned well in school, and started putting pieces together in new combinations, and knocking on doors to get it done. To learn a topic, I like to get to its primitive ideas and original thinkers, and work forward through its evolution, and this book serves nicely. It is a segment of the story I hadn't seen. The narrator fits very well with the matter-of-fact, plain-speaking style.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
The book chronicles extremely detailed periods of his life, not the details or inner workings of Numerix and it's technology that changed the investment and trading industry.