Saturday, January 20, 2007

Five best books about life on Wall Street

Stephen Frey, the managing director of a private equity fund and author of several novels including The Power Broker and, most recently, The Successor, named the five best books about life on Wall Street for Opinion Journal.

Numbers 4 and 5 on the list:
Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis went on to write other best sellers, such as "Next" and "Moneyball," but "Liar's Poker" remains his most personal work--and his funniest. He labored for Salomon Brothers as a bond trader for four years, from 1984 through the crash of October 1987, apparently taking copious notes along the way. The result is a first-rate account of how the bond-trading side of the investment-banking business works, but the reporting is spiked with wicked asides and telling observations. The book's title comes from a game that Salomon traders played involving the serial numbers of dollar bills instead of playing cards. A story that helped make "Liar's Poker" so memorable recounted how Salomon chairman John Gutfreund once challenged the company's top trader to one hand for $1 million--and then backed down when the trader upped the stakes to $10 million.

Anatomy of Greed by Bryan Cruver

Bryan Cruver was a 30-year-old MBA when he arrived at Enron in March 2001; nine months later, he and thousands of other Enron employees were out of work as the energy giant imploded. "Anatomy of Greed" is a prime lesson in the ways that even the best and the brightest can be fooled. Accountants, lawyers, rating-agency analysts and investment bankers who are constantly on the lookout for financial shenanigans sometimes don't see them until it's too late. The story of the "crooked E"--as Enron came to be known, thanks to its logo and its infamous shell-game business practices--is one more reminder to investors of why it's so, so good to diversify.

Read the full list.

--Marshal Zeringue