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My Book Reviews

Category: Wall Street stories
Published: 1998
Read: 2001
Reviewed: Jun 2010

This book attempts to take the reader inside the world of Wall Street trading. The author talks about the different kinds of traders (pit traders, quants, program traders, derivatives traders, currency traders, and daytraders) but mainly focuses on institutional traders (buy-side and sell-side). It also touches on random topics, like: the financial media, the crash of 87, the rogue trader scandals of the 90s (Joseph Jett, etc).

Overall, this book is not very good. Despite the prospect of hearing some interesting stories from market veterans, this book has no depth to it at all and reads like a Dummies book. The whole book is comprised solely of overused clichés, trite expressions, and embarrassingly superficial observations, such as: how traders have to make quick million-dollar decisions, that markets move really fast, that traders have many computer screens to monitor, that speculators are motivated by profits, and that trading is very stressful.

Although there are plenty of first-hand stories from real traders, they are mainly comprised of one-line anecdotes which could have been aggregated from a simple google search. I also think that the author gives traders too much praise. This is saying a lot since I am a trader myself. The author basically claims that markets would break down without traders. Although traders do serve the important role of providing liquidity (among other functions), I don't think it is fair to say that markets would break down without traders. Here are the few interesting quotes and topics from the book:

  • "Trading is definitely not a field for mediocrity."
  • The comments from a floor trader's wife about what it's like to worry about (and watch) her trader husand lose so much money.
  • The story about the first block trade in London.
  • The quick profiles of Michael Milken, Muriel Siebert, Leo Melamed, Michael Bloomberg, and D.E. Shaw.

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