Liar's Poker Rothdas book review RSS
4.0 Stars

This was an informative and humorous book that mixes personal anecdote, company politics, and a broad overview of the financial markets in the 70's and 80's. The story follows the author through his recruitment, training, and moderate success at Salomon Brothers, one of the preeminent bond traders during the time. Along the way he introduces various characters at the firm, covers the history of the firm, and explains the way the various economic trends played out during that time. He also manages to sneak in explanations of what a bond trader actually does, how the various markets interact, and how junk bonds, mortgage traded securities, and other financial instruments came into being and developed. It's a surprisingly funny and enjoyable read considering the amount of fact and detail that is packed into it. I think a lot of it is the author's voice, which is self-depreciating and appropriately distant from the events and passions of the firm. The tone reminded me of one of my favorite books, _Complete and Utter Failure_, which recognizes the sort of humor to be found in most human endeavor when viewed from the correct distance.

Even if the book wasn't funny, and didn't serve as a beginning primer for finance, I'd still think it worthwhile as a clear statement of basic financial truths. Money is not distributed according to "worth", money doesn't necessarily produce a good life, and much of the activity in finance is somewhere between a con game and a casino. Those seem like important life lessons that more people should know.

Oh, and it has useful quote for programmers and bond traders: "God gave you eyes, plagarize!"