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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on Form
Michael Lewis, as a former Salomon Brothers bond trader, has a perspective on the financial markets that other journalists do not. He also writes fluently, and is skilled at taking complex and obscure subjects and explaining them clearly. Of his books, Liar's Poker and The Big Short are terrific, whereas Boomerang seemed to me as if it had been rushed out and rather...
Published 13 months ago by Andy Hayler

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good journalism, but somewhat unsatisfying
Michael Lewis is trying to explain the inner workings of the stock markets to a broad audience. If you are a finance professional, the book lacks the kind of detail that would make it really satisfying. There is a much bigger story here than just the IEX founders and a lot of other characters and institutions are glossed over very lightly. The exchanges in particular and...
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on Form, 9 April 2014
By 
Andy Hayler "prose_lover" (London England) - See all my reviews
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Michael Lewis, as a former Salomon Brothers bond trader, has a perspective on the financial markets that other journalists do not. He also writes fluently, and is skilled at taking complex and obscure subjects and explaining them clearly. Of his books, Liar's Poker and The Big Short are terrific, whereas Boomerang seemed to me as if it had been rushed out and rather lazily edited. Flash Boys marks a return to form, lucidly explaining the hidden world of high frequency trading, and vividly bringing to life the personalities of many of the key players involved in it. It raises very serious questions about the financial system today, as if even more of these were needed.
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars F***ing outrageous and scandalous!, 2 April 2014
By 
Steven Aitchison "Steven Aitchison" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
I can't believe no one has posted a review saying they are totally outraged by everything this book has documented. The worlds largest banks knowing they are totally ripping off their customers, and getting away with it.

The absolute shocking treatment of Serge Aleynikov by Goldman Sachs infuriated me, and they got away with it with no criminal charges against them, and managed to ruin a guys life in the process. The guy used open source code to write code for Goldman Sachs system, and they didn't allow him to deposit that code back, as is the etiquette of open source. However when he downloaded the code he had written for Goldman Sachs, they called in the FBI who flung him in Jail in 2010 - TOTALLY CORRUPT. You might say, there's always two sides to the story, but wait until you read it.....

Okay, outrage over.....

The book is jaw droppingly good. I honestly could not put it down, and all the while I was reading it I kept on saying 'no way!'. The people who we entrust our money to every single day are so corrupt it's beyond believable: that being the banks.

The story itself is about High Frequency Traders (HFTs) and their need for high speed data, before anyone else gets it. The huge banks of America were more than willing to supply these HFTs with information in order to manipulate stock orders placed by unsuspecting clients so that the HFTs could front run them and make money. The HFTs in turn paid for this information in the form of Dark Pools.

Well, a bunch of guys sought to change the practice of high frequency trading,led by Brad Katsuyama and bring a bit of honesty and integrity back to Wall Street. They wanted to open an exchange, IEX, that was not being led or manipulated by HFTs and give their clients real time quotes which they could buy at without the HFTs being involved.

Goldman Sachs, or the two partners who were brought in changed things, somewhat redeemed the name of Goldman Sachs by 'going straight' and using the IEX exchange to do their trading, and yet there was still resistance from the top of Goldman Sachs, because they would be losing money by not having the HFTs front running.

Obviously I am only reading one side of a complicated story, but Michael Lewis has written an excellent book about the inner workings of Wall Street, and he has managed to make complicated material readable to the lay person.

I'm still aghast at everything written about, and I'm by no means a naive person, but this is just incredible.

If you're really interested you should also watch Michael Lewis, Brad Katsuyama and William O'Brien (BATS Exchange) in a heated debate about this, and then make your own mind: [...] up.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book - don't be fooled by negative reviews, 2 April 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
To begin, you should be aware that that the majority of the negative reviews are from people who are (indirectly) being described as stupid or greedy in this book. If you're either stupid or greedy and work in financial services, I agree that you may not like this book.

For everyone else, this is a must read. Lewis has an extremely engaging writing style which makes for a fun read, but the content will leave you speechless. Never before has the greed and dishonesty of the major Wall Street players been so clearly documented.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 3 April 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Kindle Edition)
We all suspected something fishy was going on, but exactly what could never be explained to us, until now! Fascinating!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shows there are good guys on Wall Street, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Flash Boys is not as balls out funny as some of Lewis's other books like Boomerang but it is still incredibly well written and engaging. Part of the reason for the lack of funny is that this isn't really an amusing subject.

Most of Flash Boys is about how a large number of stock brokers and investors on Wall Street simply did not understand what had happened to the market after the 2008 crash. The book focuses on a Royal Bank of Canada employee who gradually worked out not only that the market was being distorted by High Frequency Traders (HFT) but also uncovered the ways in which the major banks and the stock markets were aiding the HFTs in ripping off ordinary people.

While many people will already be aware that HFT existed (think Robert Harris's novel The Fear Index) what is shocking about the story told in Flash Boys is the way that HFTs were allowed and encouraged to distort the stock market in a way that served no purpose other than to generate money for HFT. You can feel the anger that Lewis feels about this and the anger that many of the people on Wall Street felt. It does have hopeful moments towards the end but overall this is a pretty depressing story about how Wall Street and the regulators of Wall Street fail to act in the interests of a free and open market.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable narrative, but vintage Lewis nonetheless, 6 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Like everything Lewis writes, this is a book about an arcane subject matter of limited apparent relevance to most people that is written in such a way as to be very hard to put down. Lewis's secret is to write books about people, and, like his previous work, this is at its heart a biographical study of some oddballs, misfits and eccentrics who set out to change their small corner of the world. The formula is pretty familiar to Lewis fans by now and, as I note below, this one is full of bias and fallacy, but for me this does not diminish the appeal of the book as a gripping page-turner.

Having said that, I found the Lewis formula slightly less convincing in this context than some others - it's certainly not hard to believe that Jim Clarke is a renegade or that Michael Oher is an outsider; but the head of equity trading at RBC? Really? It is inconceivable to me that anyone in the sharp-elbowed, politically ruthless world of Wall St just falls into a $2m-a-year job without having pretty clear and aggressive ambitions to get there. And the other characters, likewise, must have played the game pretty well and been reasonably focussed and compliant to have forged the careers they did.

And Lewis clearly cut corners on his research here. Whether his success has made him lazy, or whether he was more keen on pushing an agenda than reporting facts, I don't know. However, unlike Liar's Poker, whose appeal came from being written by an true insider, this book is written from the point of view of a man whose many decades away from the coal face have left him substantially out of touch with the world he writes about. Combine this with the fact that, by his own admission, he could not get any successful HFTs to talk to him, and you end up with a poorly informed narrative biased by the agendas of its sources. Some of the more glaring errors included the claim that no inside finance knows about HFT (co-location was first explained to me by a Spanish literature student with no connection to finance, back in the late 1990s) and that HFT barely existed prior to 2007 (again, I was interviewing HFT traders back in 2003 and 2004, and most had built substantial careers in that business by that time).

It is a pity that this book is so transparently factually inaccurate, but if read as a novle it is highly entertaining, and something that I would nevertheless recommend to anyone who wasn't likelt to take it too seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Third ace from the author of ‘Liar's Poker’, 1 April 2014
By 
Denis Vukosav - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Kindle Edition)
‘Flash Boys’ written by Michael Lewis is a new book from successful author who three years ago in his book ‘The Big Short’ gave his views on the market crisis continuing the story begun in ‘Liar's Poker’ in which he went all the way to 1980's.

All Lewis books were bestsellers so far, and it’s realistic to expect that similar fate this latest one will experience, regardless that each his release is always accompanied by fragmentation of the audience on those extremely prone and averse to his reflections.

For readers acquainted with the author's previous books, there will not be a greater surprises – ‘Flash Boys’ is somehow typical work with all the characteristics Lewis usually offers that make his actual story to be read like a fiction with regard to how the author skillfully tempers its pace and interweaves several story streams.

In the center of the story is a group of people called ‘Flash Boys’ who realize that the stock market is adjusted in a way that more than ever before is under the control of major Wall Street banks. They figured out that independently working at different companies but after finding out for each other they decided to join together trying to change financial markets by introducing exchange that eliminates advantages of high frequency trading.

Somewhat incredible sounds the story with which the book begins revealed by one of the participants in this story – laying down a special optical cable between Chicago and NYC in order to obtain extra 0.003 of a second off the time it takes information to travel between these two cities, a speed advantage that will be used by Wall Street guys to beat the system.

In a similar style the rest of the book is written that results with reader’s interest and often disbelief allowing a peek behind the scenes of modern trading in which machines do the work much faster than a man could imagine using amazing algorithms that compete among themselves deceiving each other by placing delusion trades.

So if you like previous books of Michael Lewis you will certainly love this one - a good pace, excellent knowledge of discussed topics and skill in creating a coherent story make his latest three hundred pages to fly by in no time leaving reader in anticipation of a new behind-the-scenes market story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flash Classic, 8 May 2014
This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
No intelligent adult interested in the truth of today's economy can avoid reading a Michael Lewis book and nor should they. Ever since Liar's Poker, Lewis has been pulling the trousers of Wall Street down around its ankles and inviting us to have a peek at the sordid sight. In this respect, Flash Boys joins a long list of unmissable books, and is right there up there with his finest.

While outsiders might find Liar's Poker and the Big Short more relevant, Lewis unearths the bizarre world of the HFT (high frequency traders) who have really taken over since the crash and are skimming the entire stock exchange. How they do this and who found out the truth and did something about it, is the meat of the book - and I won't spoil it. It is too good.

Lewis is expert at decoding and simplifying the arcane and intricate world of Wall Street (and other interesting, financially focussed worlds) and simplifies them so even dumb clucks like me can understand what's happening and shudder. Flash boys takes what seems a minor, hidden phenomenon, and shows us all what the hell is going on. And it ain't pretty at all, You might think this activity is small beer compared to the 2006-2008 scandals - but this move to computer directed trading in the flash of a nano-second may produce scary results that shock us all.

So by all means BUY this book and read it. It will open your eyes, like all Lewis books, and make your head swim. Promise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bullseye..., 11 April 2014
By 
Boot-Boy (Gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Right on target. Another stunning indictment of Wall Street's wicked ways, written by a man who knows how to make the most abstruse and arcane financial matters immediately comprehensible to readers outside the industry. There's a clarity here, and strong storytelling narrative, that make this book very hard to put down. It's difficult to understand how we could ever trust banks and bankers again, yet among the thieves and rascals who crowd these pages it's encouraging to learn that there are some honourable men and women on the street of shame who really do want to change the system for the better. The very best of luck to them. They'll need it...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Lewis' first five-star book, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Over the past 24 years, Michael Lewis has enjoyed five-star success writing four-star, three-star and occasionally two-star books of the fly-on-the wall variety.

Flash Boys breaks this mould. It is a genuine contribution.

I can pass judgement because my life has run parallel to his books. I read "Liars' Poker" as a college junior in 1990 and used it as a manual to get a job at Salomon Brothers. Six years there was parlayed into a career mostly in finance, but by the time he was writing the "New New Thing" I was already a co-founder and CEO of a disruptive business called book2eat.com. When "Boomerang" came out I was trading Greek government bonds. And now "Flash Boys" is coming out I've just accepted a job to do electronic trading.

In all his efforts that I can judge (so I'll have to leave Moneyball out) he's so far been unfailingly entertaining, but very consistent in getting the wrong end of the stick. Let's take it one by one:

The subject of "Liars' Poker," Salomon Brothers, not only pioneered the use of financial mathematics in the pricing of plain securities like bonds, not only invented all vanilla derivatives such as swaps, it also invented live pricing and for example seeded Teknekron, the pioneer of sending exchange prices into spreadsheets. Its head of IT was a certain Michael Bloomberg whose ground-breaking software had its baptism of fire as Salomon's B-Page.

In his short tenure at the firm, Michael Lewis completely failed to notice any of the above. He also failed to notice that customers in the main seek yield and nothing else. Always have done and always will do. They lack the inclination to understand value and they are not incentivized to seek it. Many feel zero fiduciary duty toward the institution they work for and maximize their own career prospects, while many actually seek out willing accomplices within the banks, often via "introductory agents" etc. and do what they can to monetize the position they hold. Michael Lewis was completely wrong to accuse Salomon as an institution of greed, basically. All they ever did was invent markets and exploit their first-mover advantage.

I've worked at Salomon, Goldman, Lehman, CSFB, ABN, Nomura (the cynical reader will notice the progression is rather monotonic) and my current employer who will remain nameless. Of the above, Salomon was very comfortably the most stand-up toward its customers. It was head and shoulders above the rest. My first week at Goldman I was so deflated by what I saw relative to what I'd known at Salomon, I resolved to leave as soon as my (very juicy) guarantee was cashed in and I still have zero regrets about it. But I did not write a book, because Goldman merely did very well what everybody else except Salomon was doing poorly, let's put it that way. It operated well within the parameters of its industry.

With a total of one observation, Michael Lewis got the wrong end of the stick. He's never seen true rogue behaviour. Even if he'd been at Bear Sterns, of course, he would not exactly have been handed those funky accounts in his first year, would he? Regardless, "Liars' Poker" was a fun book that changed my life.

The subject of the "New New Thing" was the founder of Netscape, who (like Salomon, admittedly) no longer exists. But my main gripe with that book was that it failed to mention that success in entrepreneurial business is 90% about hard work and 9% about getting backed by the right people and at most 1% for everything else. It isn't at all about the idea. Not even half a percent. My favorite example is Amazon. Jeff Bezos got his start in the least sexy, most replicable, zero-network-effect, clicks-and-mortar corner of the market. He now runs the most important business on earth and is getting into all the sexy stuff through brute force. In celebrating genius, Michael Lewis showed he did not understand what it was all about. But, again, it was a very entertaining book. I loved it.

The author truly hit rock bottom with Boomerang. For one, while it undeniably has its moments, it has to resort to grotesque exaggeration to elicit any laughs. I've lived in the same Germany he describes and never noticed anybody having any obsession with fecal matter. And as a Greek I'm totally appalled that he visited one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, and probably the only way anyone can time-travel to year 1400 (Prince Charles regularly does, recently with his sons, in the past with Prince Philip) and take away tawdriness rather than grandeur from Haghion Oros.

The guy had a budget to go visit the most amazing places on earth and rather than celebrate what was great about them or get to the bottom of what was wrong about them (and God knows plenty is) he came back with a bunch of trite observations. So I vowed never to read Michael Lewis again.

And then comes this.

"Flash Boys" is AWESOME. It has a plot, it has fully-developed heros and villains, it has a subplot that you suspect got lost but comes back with a vengeance (and a twist!! I won't spoil it for you) at the end of the book. It has a second subplot that is also a morality story, which I found totally gripping. It's as tightly packed as "Pulp Fiction" and I say that with no exaggeration.

Most importantly, it seems like Michael Lewis finally "gets it." His description of "Scalpers Inc." on pages 107 to 112 (which incidentally gets left out of the New York Times short version of the book) should be required reading for all politicians, let alone Business School students. It's really QED in terms of why HFT is a scourge. His description of the three ways HFT works ("electronic front running," "rebate arbitrage" and "slow market arbitrage") on pages 172-3 is concise and irrefutable. His description of "dark pools" is damning. For all of that I'll pardon him that he fails to explain how the IEX 350 microsecond delay really works... Check it out on page 176 and see if you get it, I didn't.

The other way this book is different is Michael Lewis consciously wrote this as an epitaph. Salomon had its scandal that spelled the beginning of the end exactly one year after "Liars' Poker" appeared on the bookshelves. Netscape barely outlasted "The New New Thing." And Greece defaulted roughly as "Boomerang" appeared. And all of the above would have been a surprise to the author. Not this time. In "Flash Boys" he shows you step-by-step how HFT as an industry is coming to a close and provides the intellectual argument to back his case. It's a new new Michael Lewis.

I thought I'd read PIketty first and this later, but I was wrong. "Flash Boys" is my candidate for book of the year and I doubt anything will appear to change my mind. Yes, I know, it's like comparing "Lives of Others" with "Wedding Crashers" but I can't help it, the truth is I enjoyed "Flash Boys" more than "Capital"
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Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
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