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Liar's Poker: Rising through the wreckage on Wall Street
by Michael Lewis
Penguin Books, 1989
paperback, 249 pages
Note: Background images in February 2003 are selected from analyticalQ photo gallery.
analyticalQ book reviews
Photo: Consultants to financial institutions, after Black Monday 1987

Bon Journal

Liar's Poker

Hurray! I finally found the time to read those titles on my backlog. How many people have told me about this book? Countless. Each time, I shook my head and said, "I will, when I find the time."

Now I know why they thought I should have read the book. It's about making loads of money as a trader or salesperson. Like the author Michael Lewis, I, too had gone to London School of Economics. One of the job opportunities I entertained afterwards was in fact selling bonds for Credit Swiss First Boston. Unsure of what bonds were, I went instead for management consulting. After consulting, the next time I interviewed for a job was for a "customer dealer" - in other words, a salesperson for a bank. I didn't want it but convinced the bank to hire me as a treasury planning officer.

Had I read "Liar's Poker" then, I might have dismissed the low starting salaries for the much higher bonus that I could have gotten. Instead, I aimed for the more conservative path.

But how many young people did read the book and went for the shooting stars?

After more than a decade of articles and conferences on risk management, what Lewis described in his book reeks of sheer luck and indulgence --- no risk management. Ten years from now, what we write about today will seem adolescent and naive. Risk management is the talk of town, but maybe there's more. The heyday of telephone digit salaries and bonuses are gone. What next?

Like Lewis, I too turned my attention to writing. Unlike Lewis, I'm not funny enough to make my brother (a big Liar's Poker fan) laugh. Certainly not funny enough to get him addicted to the Bon Journal!

4 February 2003 Tuesday

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Anne Ku
writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.