Saturday, January 23, 2010

Five best: finance books on troubled times

Duff McDonald is the author of Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books on finance during times of trouble. One title on the list:
The Go-Go Years
by John Brooks
Weybright & Talley, 1973

Just as the stock market moves in cycles, even though each new generation seems to think each new high and low is happening for the first time, so, too, do market players often imagine that they're breaking new ground when most are not. Today's high-flyers are pretty much the same as those depicted by John Brooks in "The Go-Go Years," his account of how the stock market changed during the 1960s. At the very moment when stocks were truly going mainstream in America, Brooks produced one of the most enjoyable and insightful books ever written about the tribes and tactics of the stock market. Chronicling the escapades of almost-forgotten swashbucklers such as Gerald Tsai and Saul Steinberg, he produced incomparable observations about Wall Street's merry-go-round of triumph and tragedy. He describes 1968 as the year "Wall Street had become a mindless glutton methodically eating itself to paralysis and death," something that happened again in the period 2004-07. And what of our capacity to learn from our mistakes? "Reform is a frail flower that languishes in the hot glare of prosperity," he observes. Given that prosperity still looks a while off at this point in 2010, maybe reform will actually bloom.
Read about another book on McDonald's list.

--Marshal Zeringue