Michael Lewis Portfolio Article: The End

A friend recently posted a link to this superb article in Portfolio by Michael Lewis (author of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball) entitled simply: The End.

The article is about the end of an era on Wall Street, an era that lasted about 20 years longer than Lewis thought it would when he quit his job at Salomon Brothers in 1988. The article is long (nearly 10,000 words, i.e., 20 pages) so I’d recommend printing the article and reading it when you have some quiet time.

I’ve read two of Lewis’s books and seen him speak once. He’s a delightful writer and a dynamic speaker, high on energy and low on ego. I highly recommend Moneyball, particularly for those in the BI community, focused on business metrics.

For those who follow Wall Street, The End is a must read. Rather than writing a review, I’ll just try to hook you with this excerpt, the first two paragraphs of the article:

To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

2 responses to “Michael Lewis Portfolio Article: The End

  1. Thanks for pointing to this one, Dave. Liars Poker and Moneyball are high on my list of entertaining and enlightening books. I’d also recommend an article by Lewis about “catastrophe bonds” in the NY Times magazine a while back. Its got it all – finance, statistics, human drama :http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E1DE103FF935A1575BC0A9619C8B63- David Sherman

  2. Dave,Great post. I love the way Lewis writes about finance, and always look forward to his explanations and exposes.- Andrew McAfee

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