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Binge Trading: The real inside story of cash, cocaine and corruption in the City Paperback – 7 May 2009
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'A surefire bet' The Observer 'The Hot Topic -- Penguin has snapped up ex-stockbroker Seth Freedman's expose of the Square Mile' thelondonpaper
About the Author
At 19, Seth Freedman ditched his university place to take a job at a City stockbrokers. It was 1999, the height of the dotcom boom, and within months he was handling millions of pounds of client orders. He dealt for Swiss banks, traded bonds in Geneva, then left to take his client base to a London brokerage. He got out before the 2008 crash and wrote a series of articles for the Guardian, which generated a massive reaction from readers.
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It tells you that no-one had anything good to say about this dull tome.
Do you feel sorry for multimillionaire traders who are stressed out? The poor dears!
Seth, like most City types, seems to have a massive ego and imagines his experiences are fascinating.
Sadly, they are not.
Unlike Michael Lewis's 'Big Short' which is packed with information and interesting stories 'Binge Trading' is hard to read because it is so 'Seth-indulgent'. He just can't resist using every big word he can think of: 'Behemoth' for example.
I can't be bothered saying any more...
UPDATE: I gave Binge Trading a bit more time and would now concede that several chapters are interesting.
When Seth interviews other people, rather than just droning on about himself, he is actually quite interesting.
The chapter about 'Evil' Simon Caukwell (who could be renamed Simon Doesn't-look-well) was a good read particularly Evil's opinion that Gordon Brown allowed the economy to overheat so he could tax the 'false' profits: money made out of easy credit.
I think Seth could write a great book if he focused on reporting and removed himself from his work.
APOLOGY. I must apologise to Seth. I was prejudiced by the opening chapters which are poor. However this book gets much better as I read it more. It is actually rather good. I have moved from 1 star to 4 stars!
Seth Freedman's own experience by his own admission is limited to the 6 years he spent in the city, and this is reflected in the fact that only a small portion of the book talks about his own real experience. The language and style of writing is refreshingly informal at the start but it gets boring and monotonous after a while. The story is generally disjointed and is made worse by the greater portion of the book being quotes from his "insiders". I find this terribly disappointing as I was expecting more about this guy and how involved he was in the city; unfortunately there was very little of this throughout the book. There was a reasonable amount of contradiction and inconsistency (e.g. with cocaine use affecting trading - he admits that no one does this at the trading terminal, whereas this was touted as a core selling story of the book).
In fairness, there was a moment of excitement when he addresses Gordon Brown's dealing of the credit crisis, offering a honest and candid opinion on the approach by the government. Just too many quotes and not even a well-constructed paraphrasing effort when he interviews all his insiders.
I only finished this book due to a long layover during flights and also actually seeing whether it improves; unfortunately it doesn't, which was disappointing. Well-written and promising cover summary, not what I found inside the book unfortunately.
This book is being compared to "how I caused the credit crunch" and "Cityboy" so I thought I'd add my two cents on that. The above mentioned books are first person accounts of their experiences in the City. Binge trading has some of that but it's mostly focused on other people's experiences.
Up to now 3 stars but what really bumped it up to 4 stars for me were the last few chapters, who's message is on the positives that the City provides to the greater community. A stark contrast to what's been in the press recently.
I think the book struggles due to a lack of 'inside' knowledge.As a result, the descriptions of trading floor banter and general behaviour is poor.This , i think, is very well done in other books.The descriptions of the symbiotic relationship between brokers & dealers could have been explored with greater depth.I'm not entrirely sure why it wasn't but everything has a unsubtantial feel about it.It almost feels like you're reading short story in a sunday supplement.
After Liars Poker, I would recommend City Boy; Nick Leesons Rogue Trader (surprisingly still very interesting), Predators Ball (Michael Milken and the Dexel Burnham)
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