2021 Wall Street Reading List

The 2021 Wall Street Reading List by WSRL Admins   |    1442 views
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    Trillions

    From the Financial Times's global finance correspondent, the incredible true story of the iconoclastic geeks who defied conventional wisdom and endured Wall Street's scorn to launch the index fund revolution, democratizing investing and saving hundreds of billions of dollars in fees that would have otherwise lined fat cats' pockets. Fifty years ago, the Manhattan Project of money management was quietly assembled in the financial industry's backwaters, unified by the heretical idea that even many of the world's finest investors couldn't beat the market in the long run. The motley crew of nerds—including economist wunderkind Gene Fama, humiliated industry executive Jack Bogle, bull-headed and computer-obsessive John McQuown, and avuncular former WWII submariner Nate Most—succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Passive investing now accounts for more than $20 trillion, equal to the entire gross domestic product of the US, and is today a force reshaping markets, finance and even capitalism itself in myriad subtle but pivotal ways. Yet even some fans of index funds and ETFs are growing perturbed that their swelling heft is destabilizing markets, wrecking the investment industry and leading to an unwelcome concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands. In Trillions, Financial Times journalist Robin Wigglesworth unveils the vivid secret history of an invention Wall Street wishes was never created, bringing to life the characters behind its birth, growth, and evolution into a world-conquering phenomenon. This engrossing narrative is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand modern finance—and one of the most pressing financial uncertainties of our time.

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    The Key Man

    In this compelling story of lies, greed and tarnished idealism, two Wall Street Journal reporters investigate a man who Bill Gates, Western governments, and other investors entrusted with billions of dollars to make profits and end poverty, but who now stands accused of masterminding one of the biggest, most brazen financial frauds ever. Arif Naqvi was charismatic, inspiring, and self-made—all the qualities of a successful business leader. The founder of Abraaj, a Dubai-based private-equity firm, Naqvi was the Key Man to the global elite searching for impact investments to make money and do good. He persuaded politicians he could help stabilize the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs and guided executives to opportunities in cities they struggled to find on the map. Bill Gates helped him start a $1 billion fund to improve healthcare in poor countries and the UN and Interpol appointed him to boards. As Pope Francis blessed a move to harness capitalism for the good of the poor, Naqvi won the support of Obama’s administration and investors, who compared him to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. In 2018, Simon Clark and Will Louch were contacted by an anonymous whistleblower who said Naqvi had swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and offered bribes to sustain his billionaire lifestyle. Digging into the claims, Clark and Louch uncovered hundreds of documents and exposed the wrongdoing. In April 2019—months after their exposé broke—Naqvi was arrested on charges of fraud and racketeering, and faces up to 291 years in jail. Populated by a cast of larger-than-life characters and moving across Asia, Africa, Europe and America, The Key Man is the story of how the global elite was duped by a capitalist fairytale. Clark and Louch shine a light on efforts to clean up global capital flows even as opaque private equity firms amass trillions of dollars and offshore tax havens cast a veil of secrecy which prevents regulators, investors and citizens from understanding what’s really going on in the finance industry.

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    Lying for Money

    An entertaining, deeply informative explanation of how high-level financial crimes work, written by an industry insider who’s an expert in the field. The way most white-collar crime works is by manipulating institutional psychology. That means creating something that looks as much as possible like a normal set of transactions. The drama comes later, when it all unwinds. Financial crime seems horribly complicated, but there are only so many ways you can con someone out of what’s theirs. In Lying for Money, veteran regulatory economist and market analyst Dan Davies tells the story of fraud through a genealogy of financial malfeasance, including: the Great Salad Oil swindle, the Pigeon King International fraud, the fictional British colony of Poyais in South America, the Boston Ladies’ Deposit Company, the Portuguese Banknote Affair, Theranos, and the Bre-X scam. Davies brings new insights into these schemes and shows how all frauds, current and historical, belong to one of four categories (“long firm,” counterfeiting, control fraud, and market crimes) and operate on the same basic principles. The only elements that change are the victims, the scammers, and the terminology. Davies has years of experience picking the bones out of some of the most famous frauds of the modern age. Now he reveals the big picture that emerges from their labyrinths of deceit and explains how fraud has shaped the entire development of the modern world economy.

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    Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue

    An engaging and enlightening account of taxation told through lively, dramatic, and sometimes ludicrous stories drawn from around the world and across the ages Governments have always struggled to tax in ways that are effective and tolerably fair. Sometimes they fail grotesquely, as when, in 1898, the British ignited a rebellion in Sierra Leone by imposing a tax on huts—and, in repressing it, ended up burning the very huts they intended to tax. Sometimes they succeed astonishingly, as when, in eighteenth-century Britain, a cut in the tax on tea massively increased revenue. In this entertaining book, two leading authorities on taxation, Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod, provide a fascinating and informative tour through these and many other episodes in tax history, both preposterous and dramatic—from the plundering described by Herodotus and an Incan tax payable in lice to the (misremembered) Boston Tea Party and the scandals of the Panama Papers. Along the way, readers meet a colorful cast of tax rascals, and even a few tax heroes. While it is hard to fathom the inspiration behind such taxes as one on ships that tended to make them sink, Keen and Slemrod show that yesterday’s tax systems have more in common with ours than we may think. Georgian England’s window tax now seems quaint, but was an ingenious way of judging wealth unobtrusively. And Tsar Peter the Great’s tax on beards aimed to induce the nobility to shave, much like today’s carbon taxes aim to slow global warming. Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue is a surprising and one-of-a-kind account of how history illuminates the perennial challenges and timeless principles of taxation—and how the past holds clues to solving the tax problems of today.

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    The Caesars Palace Coup

    From the Vegas Strip to Wall Street boardrooms and Federal courts, modern corporate titans collide in this explosive true story of how private equity firm Apollo Global Management's thirty-billion-dollar buyout of Caesars Entertainment turned into unprecedented bankruptcy of the gaming empire. In the bestselling tradition of Michael Lewis's The Big Short and Ben Mezrich’s Bringing Down the House, journalists Max Frumes and Sujeet Indap deliver a page-turning account of the spectacular 2015 bankruptcy of America’s biggest gaming empire, Caesars Entertainment. Backdropping this thrilleresque narrative are the jokers, kings, and called bluffs at the center of the modern distressed-debt-investing world. Distressed-debt investing, dubbed “vulture investing” in its infancy, is the buying of debt of struggling corporations, institutions, and even cities or countries—and making a windfall profit on a turnaround. In covering the extraordinary Caesars case, The Caesars Palace Coup presents a riches-to-rags adventure unlike any other as it appraises the battling billionaires who held the cards in 2008's leveraged buyout. This wild coup’s scope spans courtrooms, levels of government, academic halls, and ultimately involves an entire corrupt system of liar’s poker. Readers will discover just how rivetingly sophisticated—and underhanded—the high-stakes finance battleground has become. Authors Frumes and Indap, experienced business journalists, illuminate the major players and businesspeople at the tipping points of almost every major vulture’s turnaround in recent history. The Caesars Palace Coup reveals the cut-throat, multilevel competition enacted by powerful investors used to getting their own way. And goes one step further to consider the devastating, true impact of the upheaval wrought by their actions. It’s a treacherous game. Roll the dice.

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    The Changing World Order

    A few years ago, renowned investor Ray Dalio began noticing a confluence of political and economic conditions he hadn’t encountered before in his fifty-year career. They included large debts and zero or near-zero interest rates in the world’s three major reserve currencies; significant wealth, political, and values divisions within countries; and emerging conflict between a rising world power (China) and the existing one (US). Seeking to explain the cause-effect relationships behind these conditions, he began a study of analogous historical times and discovered that such combinations of conditions were characteristic of periods of transition, such as the years between 1930 and 1945, in which wealth and power shifted in ways that reshaped the world order. Looking back across five hundred years of history and nine major empires—including the Dutch, the British, and the American—The Changing World Order puts into perspective the cycles and forces that have driven the successes and failures of all the world’s major countries throughout history. Dalio reveals the timeless and universal dynamics that were behind these shifts, while also offering practical principles for policymakers, business leaders, investors, and others operating in this environment.

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    The Cult of We

    “A juicy investigation into one of Silicon Valley’s most-hyped fallen unicorns.”—Time (Best Books of Summer 2021) The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what its epic unraveling says about a financial system drunk on the elixir of Silicon Valley innovation—from the Wall Street Journal correspondents (recently featured in the WeWork Hulu documentary) whose scoop-filled reporting hastened the company’s downfall. WeWork would be worth $10 trillion, more than any other company in the world. It wasn’t just an office space provider. It was a tech company—an AI startup, even. Its WeGrow schools and WeLive residences would revolutionize education and housing. One day, mused founder Adam Neumann, a Middle East peace accord would be signed in a WeWork. The company might help colonize Mars. And Neumann would become the world’s first trillionaire. This was the vision of Neumann and his primary cheerleader, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son. In hindsight, their ambition for the company, whose primary business was subletting desks in slickly designed offices, seems like madness. Why did so many intelligent people—from venture capitalists to Wall Street elite—fall for the hype? And how did WeWork go so wrong? In little more than a decade, Neumann transformed himself from a struggling baby clothes salesman into the charismatic, hard-partying CEO of a company worth $47 billion—on paper. With his long hair and feel-good mantras, the six-foot-five Israeli transplant looked the part of a messianic truth teller. Investors swooned, and billions poured in. Neumann dined with the CEOs of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, entertaining a parade of power brokers desperate to get a slice of what he was selling: the country’s most valuable startup, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a generation-defining moment. Soon, however, WeWork was burning through cash faster than Neumann could bring it in. From his private jet, sometimes clouded with marijuana smoke, he scoured the globe for more capital. Then, as WeWork readied a Hail Mary IPO, it all fell apart. Nearly $40 billion of value vaporized in one of corporate America’s most spectacular meltdowns. Peppered with eye-popping, never-before-reported details, The Cult of We is the gripping story of careless and often absurd people—and the financial system they have made.

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    The Bond King

    From the host of NPR’s Planet Money, the deeply-investigated story of how one visionary, ruthless investor changed American finance forever. Before Bill Gross was known among investors as the Bond King, he was a gambler. In 1966, a fresh college grad, he went to Vegas armed with his net worth ($200) and a knack for counting cards. $10,000 and countless casino bans later, he was hooked: so he enrolled in business school. The Bond King is the story of how that whiz kid made American finance his casino. Over the course of decades, Bill Gross turned the sleepy bond market into a destabilized game of high risk, high reward; founded Pimco, one of today’s most powerful, secretive, and cutthroat investment firms; helped to reshape our financial system in the aftermath of the Great Recession—to his own advantage; and gained legions of admirers, and enemies, along the way. Like every American antihero, his ambition would also be his undoing. To understand the winners and losers of today’s money game, journalist Mary Childs argues, is to understand the bond market—and to understand the bond market is to understand the Bond King.

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    The World For Sale

    The modern world is built on commodities - from the oil that fuels our cars to the metals that power our smartphones. We rarely stop to consider where they have come from. But we should. In The World for Sale, two leading journalists lift the lid on one of the least scrutinised corners of the world economy: the workings of the billionaire commodity traders who buy, hoard and sell the earth's resources. It is the story of how a handful of swashbuckling businessmen became indispensable cogs in global markets: enabling an enormous expansion in international trade, and connecting resource-rich countries - no matter how corrupt or war-torn - with the world's financial centres. And it is the story of how some traders acquired untold political power, right under the noses of western regulators and politicians - helping Saddam Hussein to sell his oil, fuelling the Libyan rebel army during the Arab Spring, and funnelling cash to Vladimir Putin's Kremlin in spite of western sanctions. The result is an eye-opening tour through the wildest frontiers of the global economy, as well as a revelatory guide to how capitalism really works.