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FIASCO: Blood In the Water on Wall Street Paperback – 19 Feb 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Re-issue edition (19 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184668238X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682384
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Take it from us that F.I.A.S.C.O. is absolute dynamite ... Partnoy doesn't take prisoners. (Euroweek)

Guns, booze and bloodlust: the truth about high finance (The Sunday Times)

Gripping, unreal stuff, delivered with wry humour. (Business Age)

F.I.A.S.C.O. is a ringside seat on the nastiest and most important game being played on Wall Street today. Think of derivatives trading as a blood sport, with the unsuspecting consumer as prey. Read this book, or else ... (Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker)

Book Description

Huge bestseller about the cut-throat trading world returns with gripping new material.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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In interesting book, covering very technical subject matter. Partnoy goes to some lengths to explain the instruments he was trading, but one gets the impression he is really trying to convey how complex they are more than impart understanding.
Much of the book is delivered in the style of a bemused rant by the author, clearly shocked and frustrated by the conduct he saw around him and by the ease with which he abandoned principles and joined in.
Partnoy has become a hate figure within his industry which [...] suggests his home-truths are not well received by some.
I can't help wondering if, at one point in the book, he is describing the planting of seeds which may have helped precipitate the collapse of the Argentinian banking system a few days ago ...
Read it and see what you think.
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Format: Paperback
At first sight, this book looks like a 1990's redux of Liar's Poker and - compared to that - dwells a bit too hard just on the author's feelings and not enough on the many interesting figures of Morgan Stanley. A better job could have been done there. Where this book is unbeatable is in providing plenty of real-life examples of biased, arrogant and overconfident behaviors both inside and outside Morgan Stanley. If anybody still believed in market efficiency and investors' rationality, this book is for sure a great reality check. Also laudable is the Author's effort to explain very complex derivative products in reasonable English.
You will fully enjoy this reading especially if you have worked in a trading room before.
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This is an entertaining dirt disher, but has no other merit. If you think that life in a Wall Street firm is really like this - these days, at any rate - think again. If you want a really salacious muck raker, only well written - try Michael Lewis' Liars' Poker, on which format this book was surely based. FIASCO is a thoroughly inferior product.
Not only is it poorly written, it suffers from the fact that its author seems to have had very little understanding of what he was doing whilst at Morgan Stanley - this is apparent from simply reading his own explanations of the transactions. Mind you, this is no more than you'd expect from a junior associate who'd been on the derivatives desk for a very short period of time - derivatives trading is a difficult business (if it wasn't, people wouldn't get paid so much to do it) and it takes years to fully understand what is going on, let alone get any good at it. And that's something this author never allowed himself the time to do. If he had (and was any good), my guess is he'd still be doing the job, rather than writing the kiss and tell expose.
Partnoy gives himself away when he sensationally reveals the existence of a secret, off-balance sheet, non-disclosed Cayman SPV, identified only by a PO Box number in Grand Cayman and otherwise totally disassociated from Morgan Stanley. But far from being any real subterfuge, this sounds for all the world like a common or garden repackaging vehicle - of the sort used (quite legitimately and openly) by many investment banks for delivering funded derivative and asset-backed products to their clients. Had he taken the trouble to Google on the words "repackaging" and "Cayman" he would quickly get a sense for how common (and uncontroversial) these sorts of vehicles are.
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Format: Paperback
In this cynical book (`traders ripping their client's face off') Frank Partnoy exposes the sharp practices of the herd of Wall Street brokers.
With such outlandish names as PERLS (Principal Exchange Rate Linked Security), PLUS (Peso-Linked U.S. Dollar Secured Notes), BIDS (Brazilian Indexed Dollar Securities), `quantoed constant maturity swap yield curve flattening trade' or `leveraged-indexed-inverse-floating-dual currency structured notes', brokers disguised the underlying risks of `emerging market" currencies or of wild interest rate swings for their `dumb' clients who bought their `miraculous' high coupon products.
By paying rating agencies top dollar fees, they even got triple A ratings for their high risk derivative products.

Other policies were, `sell your mother for a basis point' or if the customers were in trouble (called `distressed buyers') `try to convince them to `double-down' on their losses', in order to generate new juicy fees for the company.
At some point, one trader had a risk of 2 million UD$ per basis point change in the interest rate.

What were the results of these `strategies': monumental commissions for the brokerage houses, tremendous bonuses for the traders and billions of billions of losses for the customers (e.g., when National Banks didn't or couldn't continue to `manage' their local currencies).

What was the reaction of the US government in the face of those blatant rip-offs: less (!), not more regulation of the derivative markets. The political campaign contributions did their work.
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