2019 Wall Street Reading List

A collection of the Wall Street Reading List's best business books published in 2019.

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What It Takes

Stephen A. Schwarzman
What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence is a memoir written by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the co-founder and CEO of the private-equity firm Blackstone Group. The book offers a behind-the-scenes look at Schwarzman's life, from his early days growing up in a middle-class family in Philadelphia to his rise to the top of the business world. He shares his experiences, successes, and failures, and he reflects on the lessons he has learned along the way. Throughout the book, Schwarzman provides an intimate look at his professional journey, including his early days working on Wall Street, the formation of Blackstone, and the challenges the firm has faced over the years. He also shares his personal experiences, including his relationship with his family and friends, and reflects on the role of his upbringing and education in shaping his career. In addition to his personal narrative, Schwarzman provides his insights on various business, economic and political issues, such as the state of the global economy, the future of technology, and the importance of leadership. He also provides a behind the scenes look at some of the major deals and negotiations he has been involved in, and provides an analysis of the strategies and decision-making that led to their success or failure. Schwarzman's book is not only a memoir but also a guide for aspiring leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors. He provides readers with practical advice on how to succeed in the business world, and how to overcome the challenges that arise in the pursuit of success. He also reflects on the importance of integrity, tenacity, and perseverance in achieving one's goals, and the role of failure in learning and growth.

The Man Who Solved the Market

Gregory Zuckerman
In The Man Who Solved The Market, Gregory Zuckerman tells the extraordinary story of Jim Simons, a brilliant mathematician and former Cold War code breaker who founded Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that has consistently outperformed the market for decades. Simons, who is known for his reclusive and private nature, has become one of the wealthiest and most successful investors in the world thanks to the innovative strategies employed by his firm. The book delves into Simons' background and how he used his unique perspective and mathematical abilities to revolutionize the world of finance and investing. It examines how he and his team at Renaissance Technologies developed complex algorithms and mathematical models to identify patterns and trends in the market, allowing them to make highly lucrative trades. The book also explores the inner workings of the hedge fund, which is known for its secretive and highly disciplined approach to investing. The Man Who Solved The Market offers a fascinating look at the rise of quantitative investing and the impact it has had on the financial industry. It is a must-read for anyone interested in finance, investing, or the incredible story of Jim Simons and Renaissance Technologies.

Invisible Women

Caroline Criado Perez
In Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, Caroline Criado Perez delves into the ways in which the gender data gap impacts the lives of women and non-binary individuals. The gender data gap refers to the lack of data collection and analysis on women and non-binary individuals, which leads to a distorted understanding of their experiences and needs. The book argues that this gap leads to discrimination and inequality for these groups, as the data that does exist is often biased towards men. Throughout the book, Criado Perez examines the ways in which the gender data gap affects various aspects of society, including healthcare, the workplace, and technology. She looks at how this gap leads to a lack of understanding of women's health needs, which can have serious consequences. For example, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed or to receive inadequate treatment due to a lack of data on their symptoms. The gender data gap also affects the workplace, as it leads to a lack of recognition for the contributions of women and non-binary individuals. In the realm of technology, Criado Perez discusses how the gender data gap leads to products and services that are not designed with women in mind, which can be harmful or even dangerous. In Invisible Women, Criado Perez makes a compelling case for the importance of collecting and analyzing data on women and non-binary individuals in order to create a more equal and just society. She argues that by closing the gender data gap, we can better understand and address the unique needs and experiences of these groups, and work towards a more inclusive and equitable world.

Narrative Economics

Robert J. Shiller
Narrative Economics is a book written by economist Robert J. Shiller that discusses the role of stories and narratives in shaping economic events and trends. According to Shiller, economic phenomena such as booms and busts, asset price bubbles, and changes in public opinion can often be traced back to the stories and narratives that people tell each other about the economy. In the book, Shiller argues that these stories and narratives can be thought of as a form of "collective intelligence" that shapes economic behavior and decision-making. He suggests that by better understanding the role of narratives in economics, we can gain insights into how economic events unfold and make more informed predictions about the future. Throughout the book, Shiller uses examples from history and current events to illustrate the ways in which narratives can drive economic behavior and outcomes. He also discusses the implications of this understanding for policymakers, investors, and others who seek to understand and influence economic trends.

Firefighting

Ben S. Bernanke
Firefighting: The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons is a non-fiction book written by Ben S. Bernanke. The book was published in 2019, a decade after the 2008 global financial crisis, in which Bernanke, who was then the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, played a key role in managing. In Firefighting, Bernanke provides an insider's account of the events leading up to the crisis, the policy decisions made during the crisis, and the lessons that can be learned from it. He explains the technical details of the crisis, such as the underlying causes of the housing bubble and the collapse of the shadow banking system, in a clear and accessible way. He also provides a candid assessment of the Federal Reserve's response to the crisis and the mistakes that were made. The book is a mix of memoir, history, and policy analysis, and provides a detailed account of the decisions and actions taken by the Federal Reserve, other regulatory agencies and other central banks during the financial crisis and its aftermath. It also covers the politics, policies and regulations that led to the crisis and the need for the reforms that followed.

Loonshots

Safi Bahcall
Loonshots is a book that delves into the idea that a group's ability to effectively manage and nurture its innovative or risky ideas, which the author refers to as "loonshots," is vital to its success. The author, Safi Bahcall, argues that organizations often struggle to support loonshots because they are more focused on maintaining the status quo and are resistant to change. He uses a wide range of examples from various industries, including science, technology, and business, to illustrate how loonshots can lead to major breakthroughs and how organizations can create an environment that fosters them. One of the key ideas in the book is that loonshots often originate from the periphery of an organization, rather than from the center. Bahcall suggests that this is because those on the periphery are less constrained by the existing norms and expectations of the organization and are therefore more likely to think outside the box. He also notes that loonshots can be difficult to recognize and support because they often appear unpromising or even ridiculous at first. In addition to exploring the importance of loonshots, the book also discusses the role of leadership and cultural norms in supporting or stifling them. Bahcall argues that effective leaders are those who are able to balance the need to maintain stability with the need to encourage and support innovation. He also emphasizes the importance of creating a culture that values and rewards risk-taking and creativity.

Adaptive Markets

Andrew W. Lo
Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought is a groundbreaking book that challenges traditional assumptions about how financial markets work. Written by Andrew W. Lo, a leading expert in financial engineering and the director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering, the book argues that financial markets are constantly adapting and evolving, rather than being governed by fixed rules or equilibrium models. Lo's central thesis is that the traditional assumption that markets are efficient and rational is flawed. Instead, market behavior is influenced by a range of factors including psychology, evolution, and culture. This view has significant implications for financial theory and practice, and Lo offers a new framework for understanding market behavior and predicting future trends. The book begins by examining the origins and evolution of financial markets, and the various factors that have shaped their development. Lo discusses the role of psychology in shaping market behavior, and how emotions and cognitive biases can influence investor decision-making. He also explores the role of evolution in financial markets, and how market participants adapt to changing conditions in order to survive and thrive. In addition to discussing the implications of this view for financial theory and practice, Lo also discusses the potential consequences of this view for regulators, investors, and policymakers. He argues that a better understanding of market behavior can inform regulatory decisions and help investors make more informed decisions. Overall, Adaptive Markets is a thought-provoking and provocative book that challenges readers to re-think their assumptions about how financial markets work and the role they play in our lives. It is a must-read for anyone interested in finance, economics, or the financial markets.

Talking to Strangers

Malcolm Gladwell
In Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell delves into the complexities and limitations of human understanding, particularly when it comes to our interactions with strangers. He argues that our default assumption that strangers are familiar and trustworthy can often lead us to make judgments about them that are based on incomplete or biased information, and that this "default to truth" can prevent us from accurately assessing the intentions and motivations of others. To illustrate his points, Gladwell examines a variety of case studies, including the murder of Chandra Levy, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, and the espionage of Ana Montes. He looks at how misunderstandings and miscommunications between strangers played a role in these events, and how our inability to accurately predict the behavior of others can have serious consequences. Gladwell also discusses the role of power dynamics and cultural differences in our interactions with strangers, and how these factors can contribute to misunderstandings. Throughout the book, Gladwell challenges readers to think critically about their own assumptions and biases when it comes to understanding and interacting with strangers. He offers a thought-provoking and insightful look at the ways in which we make sense of people we don't know, and how our inability to accurately read others can have unintended consequences. Overall, Talking to Strangers is a thought-provoking and engaging exploration of the complexities of human understanding and communication.

Boom

Michael Shnayerson
Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art is a book that delves into the world of contemporary art, focusing on the rise of the art market and the individuals who drive it. Written by Michael Shnayerson, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, the book offers an in-depth look at the top contemporary art dealers and their influence on the market. Through interviews and unprecedented access, the book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the egomaniacs, geniuses, and canny promoters who shaped the world of modern art, and created the largest unregulated financial market in the world. The book covers the history of the art market, from the early days on 57th Street to the rise of SoHo and Chelsea, and the emergence of the mega-dealers who preside over today's art market. It's a story of backstabbing, betrayals, fruitful partnerships, genius, and ever-larger sums of money. The book also explores the relationship between the art world and the financial opportunities that surrounds it.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a book by Shoshana Zuboff that examines the rise of a new economic system centered around the collection and analysis of personal data. Zuboff argues that this system, which she calls surveillance capitalism, has developed in the digital age and is driven by the profit motive of large tech companies. In the book, Zuboff traces the history of surveillance capitalism and its impact on society. She discusses how the growth of the internet and the proliferation of connected devices has enabled companies to collect vast amounts of data on individuals, which they then use to create targeted advertisements and personalized experiences. Zuboff also explores the implications of this data collection, including the erosion of privacy, the manipulation of individuals and society, and the potential for abuse of power.

Super Pumped

Mike Isaac
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber is a comprehensive and highly-detailed account of the rise and fall of ride-hailing giant Uber. Written by New York Times technology correspondent Mike Isaac, the book traces the history of Uber from its humble beginnings as a small startup in 2009, to its eventual status as a multibillion dollar company operating in cities around the world. The book begins by charting the early days of Uber's founding, and the creative and innovative ways in which the company disrupted the traditional taxi industry. It describes how Uber used technology to connect drivers and riders in a way that was faster, more convenient, and often cheaper than traditional taxi services. As Uber's popularity grew, so did its challenges. The book delves into the various controversies and scandals that plagued the company in its later years, including its combative relationship with regulators, its use of questionable business tactics, and the toxic company culture fostered by its former CEO, Travis Kalanick. Isaac also examines the personal and professional struggles of Kalanick, who became known for his aggressive leadership style and his willingness to do whatever it took to win. Despite his successes, Kalanick ultimately faced a series of setbacks and was forced to resign as CEO in 2017. Throughout the book, Isaac provides a nuanced and balanced portrayal of Uber, warts and all. He neither glorifies nor vilifies the company, but rather seeks to provide a clear-eyed and honest account of its impact on the world of transportation and beyond.