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Hedge Hogs: The Cowboy Traders Behind Wall Street's Largest Hedge Fund Disaster [Hardcover]

Barbara T. Dreyfuss
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 July 2013
At its peak, hedge fund Amaranth Advisors LLC had more than $9 billion in assets. A few weeks later, it completely collapsed. The disaster was largely triggered by one man: thirty-two-year-old hotshot trader Brian Hunter. His high-risk bets on natural gas prices bankrupted his firm and destroyed his career, while John Arnold, his rival at competitor fund Centaurus, emerged as the highest-paid trader on Wall Street. Meticulously researched and character-driven, Hedge Hogs is a riveting fly-on-the-wall account of the largest hedge fund collapse in history: a blistering tale of the recent past that explains our precarious present . . . and may predict our future.
 
Using emails, instant messages, court testimony, and exclusive interviews, securities analyst turned investigative reporter Barbara T. Dreyfuss charts the colliding paths of these two charismatic traders who dominated the speculative energy market. We follow Brian Hunter, the Canadian farm boy and elbows-out high school basketball star, as he achieves phenomenal early success, only to see his ambition, greed, and hubris precipitate his downfall. Set in relief is the journey of John Arnold, whose mild manner, sophisticated tastes, and low profile belied his own ferocious competitive streak. As the two clash, hundreds of millions of dollars in pension and endowment money is imperiled, with devastating public consequences.
 
Hedge Hogs takes you behind closed doors into the shadowy world of hedge funds, the unregulated wild side of finance, where over-the-top parties and lavish perks abound and billions of dollars of other people’s money are in the hands of a tiny elite. Dreyfuss traces the rise of this freewheeling industry while detailing the decades of bank, hedge fund, and commodity deregulation that turned Wall Street into a speculative casino.
 
A gripping saga peppered with fast money, vivid characters, and high drama, Hedge Hogs is also an important and timely cautionary tale—a vivisection of a financial system jeopardized by reckless practices, watered-down regulation, and loopholes in government oversight, just waiting for the next bust.

Advance praise for Hedge Hogs
 
“A telling insider’s story on how hedge funds are playing high-stakes poker for massive personal profits and stealing the American Dream from average families . . . This is a case study that cries out for tougher crackdowns on the derivatives game.”—Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream?
 
“Brian Hunter, dubbed one of the top rogue traders of all time by The Wall Street Journal, is the only one on the list not to have gone to prison for his crimes. In Hedge Hogs, Barbara Dreyfuss reveals in forensic detail how Hunter carried out a speculative assault on the highly vulnerable U.S. energy market. Hedge Hogs is a great read for those interested in an introduction to the games often played by energy traders, as well as Wall Street veterans who think they know everything there is to know on this subject.”—Leah McGrath Goodman, author of The Asylum: Inside the Rise and Ruin of the Global Oil Market
 
“The definitive take on the largest hedge fund collapse in history . . . You will not be able to put it down.”—Frank Partnoy, author of F.I.A.S.C.O. and Infectious Greed
 
“Dreyfuss smartly deploys her inside knowledge. . . . [Her] lucid, perceptive tour of the high-wire culture of hedge funds highlights how vapid Wall Street’s pretense of market expertise and risk analysis really is.”—Publishers Weekly

Named One of the Top 10 Business & Economics Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc (18 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068398
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068395
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 365,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DELUSIONAL PRIZEFIGHTERS 25 Oct 2013
By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Barbara T. Dreyfuss in her book "Hedge Hogs",takes a close and well researched look at two 'gun slinging' gamblers strutting the walk under the guise of 'Natural Energy Traders' leading to a shoot-out which fatally wounded one and led to the death of the large hedge fund Amaranth founded by the charismatic but flawed Nicholas Maouni, and left standing the other alive to go on to become fabulously wealthy.

At one end of the street was Brian Hunter, a brash, highly self-opinionated, way over confident commodity trader from Calgary, and at the other end of the street was Hunter's polar opposite, Enron trained natural gas trader, John Arnold, quiet, studious, inquisitive but nevertheless with a steely determination to win the shoot-out. And this book follows the careers of these guys evidencing that as a consequence of making increasing profits from the casino-like world of energy trading for their respective firms, they were allowed to keep doubling up on their trading activities to the point where they dominated this precarious financial bazaar, and committed $billions of other people's money to this hazardous area of risk. These two heavy hitters effectively cleared the street of all other traders, leaving just the two of them, eyeball to eyeball in a fight to the death. Yes, you've probably guessed correctly that in the survivor in this tussle was John Arnold who is now a multi-billionaire dispensing some of his 'gambling' spoils on various good causes. Brian Hunter's mind-numbingly large losses caused the demise of one of the largest hedge funds, Amaranth and huge losses to it's investors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good exposure of the murky trade. 16 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While USA slanted it appears to be very well informed and I have not encountered a better insight into the goings on that can cost us all financial stability
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hedge Hogs - A must read 29 May 2013
By Eileen S - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a must read for anyone who has a pension fund, who has investments in Wall Street, or for that matter who is affected by the US economy. Through extensive research, analysis, and lucid writing, Dreyfuss takes the technical subject of hedge fund trading and makes it compelling and easy to understand. She provides a window into the high stakes gambling and trading on Wall Street that occurs separately from the actual value of companies or commodities.
The narrative is enlivened by her focus on two hedge fund energy traders who trade energy as a sport, with little concern for, or awareness of, the consequences of their actions to companies or individual citizens. As she spices the financials with vignettes about the traders' backgrounds and lifestyles, she provides beginning insights into their behaviors. The book is a page turner. Will the traders survive the riskiest trades? Will the risk managers and regulatory agencies take note? Who wins and who loses....and how do we protect ourselves from the consequences?
Read the book to find out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the essence of capitalism: eating what you kill 7 Nov 2013
By John E. Drury - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once the hubris quotient and one's natural feeling that the carcass of the bankrupt Amaranth, its owner and its young villain got what they deserve is set aside, the author's journalistic build up and sense of drama delivers an informative "whiz bang" of a true story, especially at the end. While a few of the middle chapters feel like filler to lengthen out the book, Barbara Dreyfuss's "Hedge Hogs" simplifies a lot of the arcane terms of options trading and tells a good yarn about the hedge fund business, its natural inclination of greed and the need for falsehoods in the pursuit of funds from equally rapacious pension funds, unions and Wall Street. In the end, it is all about money and sharks eating what they kill; Dreyfuss makes it very clear and convincing with an admirable restraint. Because in the end, it is all about money.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and useful at the same time 4 July 2013
By Faluvegi Balazs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In 2006 I've read a lot about the Amaranth collapse, and learned many things about it, but I always missed a good, detailed research or book about the subject. Here it is, and it still has many new info in it. The author made a really detailed, still entertaining book. It's not only interesting, but can be very useful for investors, aspiring portfolio managers, and even for people at the authorities. As for the downside, I can only mention the sometimes populist, a bit "anti-market-like" comments, she made, but they are quite rare, and don't distort the book's well-written, fact based approach.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but very good 2 July 2013
By Rock Martino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I initially read the first few pages of this book and couldn't get in to it. However, on my second attempt I am glad I got through it. This book is very well written and tells a lot about the rogue traders of natural gas. I hope the next book I read is like this in terms of style and subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Look Behind the Headlines 3 Jun 2013
By JP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone in the financial industry has heard about, and likely read at least a few articles concerning the hedge fund Amaranth. Dreyfuss does an spectacular job of researching the subject extensively and then placing it in an accessible and exciting narrative format. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to go behind the headlines of what happened at Amaranth.
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