The Wisdom of Finance

Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return
Narrated by: Mihir A. Desai
Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (333 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 1688 essayist Josef de la Vega described finance as both "the fairest and most deceitful business...the noblest and the most infamous in the world, the finest and most vulgar on earth."

The characterization of finance as deceitful, infamous, and vulgar still rings true today - particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But what happened to the fairest, noblest, and finest profession that de la Vega saw?

De la Vega hit on an essential truth that has been forgotten: Finance can be just as principled, life-affirming, and worthy as it can be fraught with questionable practices. Today finance is shrouded in mystery for outsiders, while many insiders are uneasy with the disrepute of their profession. How can finance become more accessible and also recover its nobility?

Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai, in his last lecture to the graduating Harvard MBA class of 2015, took up the cause of restoring humanity to finance. With incisive wit and irony, his lecture drew upon a rich knowledge of literature, film, history, and philosophy to explain the inner workings of finance in a manner that has never been seen before.

This book captures Desai's lucid exploration of the ideas of finance as seen through the unusual prism of the humanities. Through this novel, creative approach, Desai shows that outsiders can access the underlying ideas easily and that insiders can reacquaint themselves with the core humanity of their profession.

The mix of finance and the humanities creates unusual pairings: Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope are guides to risk management; Jeff Koons becomes an advocate of leverage; and Mel Brooks' The Producers teaches us about fiduciary responsibility. In Desai's vision, the principles of finance also provide answers to critical questions in our lives. Among many surprising parallels, bankruptcy teaches us how to react to failure, the lessons of mergers apply to marriages, and the capital asset pricing model demonstrates the true value of relationships.

The Wisdom of Finance is a wholly unique book offering a refreshing new perspective on one of the world's most complex and misunderstood professions.

©2017 Mihir Desai (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Wisdom of Finance

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More wisdom is always better

What would have made The Wisdom of Finance better?

I appreciate what Mr. Desai is trying to do here - provide context and moral compass for financial professionals and those working in the industry. And in this sense he succeeds admirably and I think those in the financial sector would really benefit from the Wisdom of Finance. However, readers looking for deep, surprising or unique insights on par with the world's great poets, authors or sages should look else where.

How could the performance have been better?

Performance was a bit robotic and awkward at times.

2 people found this helpful

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Does the job admirably

This book shows us finance and risk-reward thinking as a world-view, mixed seamlessly into the regular events of our lives (and some of our favorite popular stories). It is about making smart and principled decisions in one's life, at any stage (though plenty is geared here to college students, but it is no hindrance, because the underlying principles are universal). This thinking already predominates in my mind, but it is great to walk through it with a professor who richly "gets it." There are all sorts of regular person calculations that will gain a new clarity and extra dimension to those who haven't crossed this bridge before. I was afraid, being a person who basically hasn't watched television or consumed contemporary music for 20 years, sees less than one current-run movie per year, and avoids most pop culture like the plague, I would stumble on the pop culture references, especially recent ones. I needn't have worried -- the author-narrator explains everything well. A spoonful of colorful and accessible storytelling makes the finance go down well!

7 people found this helpful

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It's ok

I think the goal of this book is to use financial concepts to teach us about how people work and how to get ahead in life in general (not just in finance). It's not particularly memorable in that way, but it's a useful explanation of some basic finance information, to help give people an appreciation for it. The author seems repeatedly focused on what he feels is a bad reputation of those who work in finance, especially Wall Street. He hopes to improve it.

1 person found this helpful

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A delightful read

Incredible piece of literature that interweaves the concepts of finance with the stories of our everyday lives. Professor Desai has a wonderfully fluid style that engages the reader with his fresh (and deep) understanding of philosophy, art, literature and pop culture. I look forward to Desai's writings; he remains among my favorite professors when I attended Harvard.

1 person found this helpful

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The Humanity of Finance

I picked this up because of the amazing reviews it has earned. I’m glad I did. Desai does a fantastic job of relating the humanities to finance, using classical literature to explain economic and financial theories. This is an immensely relatable and consumable book that anyone with any interest in finance should take up.

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nice

I loved it it was great would recommend to everybody this book is enjoying to read

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Life lessons learned from financial concepts

An interesting take on applying financial concepts and philosophies to life. With virtually no math, the author describes how things like option theory, risk vs reward, and fiduciary duties influence our decisions.

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A Great Introduction To Finance!

This book made me see Finance in a new way. Finance is no more mere numbers and projections but gets interwoven in the web of literature and life. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get interested in the study of Finance. It is both entertaining and a great introduction to the subject.

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So damn good

A remarkably poignant and touching book about finance... something I never thought I'd say ever

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life via finance perspective - interesting view

Interesting to take life lessons from the lens of finance perspective. I guess that when you are good in any subject, you can apply the principles to many other seemingly different topics.