Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Review: The Sellout

A couple years ago, my in-laws gave me the book The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Financial System by Charles Gasparino.  The book was about the financial crisis of 2008, the main figures involved and the confluence of events and actions that created the crisis.

Although the read was a slow start, I found the book to be an interesting account of the hubris and greed of the top people in many of the financial institutions.  Although the book title refers to "government mismanagement,"  I found the focus of the book to be mostly about the rise and subsequent fall of the top individuals in the private sector.

The protagonists, Jimmy Cayne, Dick Fuld, and Stanley O'Neill, were CEOs of major financial firms, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch, respectively. They reached the top by taking risks and making tremendous amounts of money.  They were smart, aggressive and driven to large profits.   Unbeknownst at the time, they were also lucky.   Lucky to be in the right place at the right time.  

Unfortunately, the luck didn't last.  The same strategies that worked during the boom times failed miserably during the crash, bringing down these individuals, their companies, and nearly the world economy.  Their downfall was believing until almost the very end that they were invincible and incapable of failure.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2011 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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