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Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets Paperback – Jan 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Holt McDougal; 2 Reprint edition (Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805075100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805075106
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,693,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Partnoy's account of what happened within these companies will send a shiver down the spine of anyone with a humble investment in a unit or investment trust' Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Sparkling ... a breathtaking chronicle of greed and stupidity on an operatic scale ... a compelling portrait of corruption on the scale of the last days of Rome..' Robert Peston --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Andy Krieger was one of those kids who, it seemed, could do everything. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 2003, 'Infectious Greed', by Frank Partnoy, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law' paints a disturbing picture, drawing on actual cases, of how an individual rogue trader can take down an entire firm, and how the derivative instruments may be destabilising the market.

Beginning with the development of 'casino mentality' derivatives at Bankers Trust and elsewhere, Partnoy guides us through the crazy, convoluted, and greed driven world of high-stake speculation, using spurious computer modelling engineered by so-called mathematical geniuses as tools of justification for the excessively leveraged high risk 'betting'. The most malign aspect was the banks themselves making huge fees out of exposing their own clients to mega losses by selling the client unnecessarily complicated 'mumbo-jumbo' derivative trades, when it was abundantly clear that the client had not the first clue as to the risks it was taking on board.

Whilst the clients had little or no understanding of the risks being assumed, it came to pass that neither at the end of the day did the senior management of the financial institutions themselves, as the rogue traders in pursuit of massive bonuses bamboozled their bosses and, in the main fled with their $millions when the 'muck hit the fan', and the bank's shareholders were left to pick up the tab.

One might have imagined that the dire warnings laid down in the book about the lack of regulation for the derivative industry, the banks feeble internal risk, accountancy and audit controls, and the all to obvious systemic risk, would have rung alarm bells just about everywhere from Capitol Hill downwards.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the 1980s onward, a financial `revolution' (better: disaster) took place. Top executives were paid with stock options. `Irrational Exuberance' reigned about the profitability of Internet companies. Financial instruments became so complex (better: risky) that control by regulators over the industry, control by owners over their company's books and control by executives over their employees was inexistent. Even the valuations of the financial products and/or of the trades themselves became impossible.

The players
The cop of Wall Street, the SEC, was controlled by the other players.
The politicians (the regulators, better: the deregulators) received ample campaign donations and promoted further deregulation.
The CEOs were responsible for massive accounting frauds. Two-thirds of them wanted a misrepresentation of their company's financial statements in order to pump up the share price.
The credit-rating agencies (an oligopoly) were paid by those who asked for a rating (of course, the highest).
The securities analysts pumped up the new offerings as true salesmen, and dumped the stocks after the fat fees were collected.
And those who put the money on the table, the `investors'? Well, they were considered to be morons and had to be fleeced.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Partnoy's previous book described his experiences in the trenches selling dodgy derivatives to unsuspecting clients. This book is a wider survey of the derivatives scandals that the banking world has seen. It is great to have such a history and gives a sense or perspective when new scandals hit the papers.
However not everybody will agree with his conclusions as to how to fix the system.
The book is well written, it is relatively free of jargon, and the content justifies the length - unlike many other business books you never feel that the book has been stretched thin.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By laurens van den muyzenberg on 17 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of this book describes what happened before 2003,with an update in 2010 of 22 pages. Important is that the risks pointed out in 2003 materialized in 2008. His three main points are (1) the products investment banks sell, especially derivatives are complicated to the point that it is impossible for the issuers to know the (tail) risk (2) bonus schemes that includes stock options lead managers to maximize risk, short term and long term (3) the financial institutions and their lobbyists oppose as a matter of principle all regulations and whatever the regulation the institution will find loopholes to reduces taxes, show more profit and a lower debt.
Whether that is generally true or refers only to a few exceptional cases the reader will have to decide.
He presents many cases that are well known like Enron, WorldCom, Peabody, Bankers Trust, Lehman and many others. I have read several books about these cases. This book is more precise. It shows the involvement if the regulatory agencies, the investment bankers, lobbyists, accounting firms. rating agencies, that together found loopholes, manipulated the financial reports, used mergers and acquisitions to hide the truth. I was amazed to read that almost everything Enron did was legal and made legally possible because of deregulation. He also explains how large commercial banks could continue to pump in funds in failing companies because of multi million fees and because these loans were covered by credit swaps.
The author also explains how the principal cause of the disasters was deregulation strongly promoted by the federal reserve and the highest level of government that were refusing to investigate the consequences of de regulation even when warned.
This battle is still going on and will go on may be forever.
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