• 09 Oct 2007 at 3:27 PM
  • books

Top Producer: An Insider Look At Private Wealth Management

privatebankingnovel.jpgAs you know, we’re always looking for the next big thing in the literature of Wall Street. We can’t get enough of the stuff. Especially when it comes to books from Wall Streeters turned writers.
So we were more than pleased when someone leaked us the first few chapters of a novel called Top Producer. It’s looks like an updated Bonfire of the Vanities set in the world of private wealth management. The author is Norbert Vonnegut, Managing Director at Silvercrest Asset Management. Vonnegut’s got a long and distinguished pedigree, having done time at Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, and Paine Webber. Oh, yeah, and he also happens to be related to that other Vonnegut guy who’s written a couple of novels.
The novel is apparently being shopped around to publishing houses by literary agent Scott Hoffman at Folio Literary, so it should be out sometime next year. That’s a longtime to wait. Will someone please leak us the rest of the book?

  • 19 Sep 2007 at 11:15 AM
  • books

A Little H&B Action

wolf.jpgAs we previously posted, the “wolf” of Wall street aka Jordan Belfort is out of prison and is promoting a piece of literature based on his sordid life at Stratton Oakmont during the coke infused 80’s-90’s. After having thumbed through this self-promoting read (which has been optioned by Warner Brothers as a Martin Scorsese film), it became clear that the book has some positive qualities. First and most important – If you’re into porn, you’ll enjoy The Wolf of Wall street. Had he been a woman, he could easily have written Harlequin romance novels from the big house. His descriptions of his “luscious” wife whom he dubs “The Duchess” are… shall we say, stimulating.
In addition to sex everywhere and in every position, if you’re into hookers, blow and Quaaludes (or at least reading about them) then this should make a nice little bedtime story. Disregard the dissonance he experiences as he attempts to balance the two personas 1) despicable pill popping prostitute enthusiast with 2) respectable family man. It’s not convincing and feels like filler. That said, there’s enough dirty goodness in here to go around. The Wolf of Wall Street lands on shelves September 25th.

larp.jpg In other New York Times gold this weekend (we know, #1 and #3 on the New York Times top-10, but both stories are especially cringe-worthy), the paper is gearing up for the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Atlas Shrugged. Guess what? There are some business people who think Atlas Shrugged qualifies as a real book, or something more than popular fiction.
Could an article for once stick a fork in Rand? A lot of books are popular. We’re sorry, but if Atlas Shrugged (or objectivism) is serious philosophy, then The Da Vinci Code is serious theology.
There’s no shame into admitting you read Atlas Shrugged in high school and got a bit of an over-ambitious upper-middle-class hard-on for your world conquering prospects. But it’s a phase you grow out of. Then again, some people still dress as elves (we live for LARP), some have a copy of Atlas Shrugged in their corner offices. A few years later and most people who grew up in bubbles (suburbanites) can laugh while admitting that they skipped the insufferable 200 page John Galt speech (in the same way you can laugh at how you thought your “Rage Against the Machine” albums were capturing your upper-middle-class teen angst).
It certainly takes that very misplaced “Big Hitter” hubris to find Rand’s work a viable replacement for Cialis, and it glorifies the denial of any real social responsibility or civic duty, so it’s no surprise that Rand’s work is popular in the corporate sector (also it takes an incredibly high I-banking analyst threshold for pain to suffer through the aforementioned speech).
There’s no shame in admitting a past affection. A lot of people got Nietzsche wrong (batty people in coffee shops, the Nazis), but it amazes us that people still find “inspiration” in Rand’s silly one-dimensional characters. Scratch that, they don’t. A few rich people, some people in neocon think tanks and Alan Greenspan (pictured, and yes, that pretty much sums up the Wall Street Journal editorial page) don’t constitute much of a consensus, despite the efforts of institutes devoted to spread Rand’s work and act eerily mystical about the batty trainwreck of an individual that was Ayn herself.
Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism [New York Times]

  • 11 Sep 2007 at 3:12 PM
  • books

Wolves, Jackasses And Other Beasts of Wall Street

conman.bmpThey say the best con men know how to make a buck going in and two bucks going out.
Meet Jordan Belfort. For those of you who are new to the industry or have been asleep behind the wheel the past couple of years – Jordan’s story runs something like this: Greedy whippersnapper swindles investors out of over a $100 million in mid ‘90’s boiler room brokerage house mayhem while accumulating racing cars, a yacht, access to hookers, blow, and (of course) a house in the Hamptons.
But when that’s all said and done, that’s not too interesting, right? Well, this gets better (or worse) . This guy ultimately gets caught, thrown in the clink for 22months and comes out a changed man. A “chaste” and “moral” man, as he calls it.
Apparently, Jordan did some reading in the big house, saw the light and carved himself a new career path: author of fine contemporary literature. Jordan’s debut book chronicling his trials and tribulations ranging from crashing his helicopter while stoned to falling for a stripper named BLASE, The Wolf of Wall Street will be available at your local bookseller in a couple of weeks.
And, of course, the fun doesn’t stop with the printed word. Looks like Martin Scorsese got his hands on this little treasure and has decided to turn his story into a Leo D blockbuster (think Catch Me If You Can on Wall street).
James P. Bodovitz, a former lawyer for the SEC, sounds a tut-tutting note in the New York Times today. “We should frown on the idea of him trying to profit or restore his public name, in light of what he did,” Bodovitz says. Harsh words there, Bodovitz. How will Jordan ever recover from you frowning at him?
Jordan says he wakes up every morning “sick to my stomach about it.” Well, that makes it all better then.
We plan on getting our hands on an advance copy of this thing and delivering a full review.
In the Ashes of His Life as a Broker, Inspiration [New York Times]

  • 23 Jul 2007 at 4:13 PM
  • books

Help Compile The Wall Street Canon

bloom.jpgWe dazzle you with our radiant erudition every day, but now Dealbreaker reader, it is your turn. We are looking to compile a firm canon of Wall Street literature and in the spirit of blogspheric democracy, we’re taking your suggestions. Please give us the classics, your favorites, must-reads, oldy-but-goodies, contemporary standouts, whatever you would anthologize in the Dealbreaker Authoritative Compendium of Business and Wall Street Literature. What makes a canonical Wall Street text? Prescient insight? Elegant prose? Amusing Anecdotes? You decide!
We will review the suggestions and compile the canon in good time.

  • 12 Mar 2007 at 11:34 AM
  • books

Fooled by Randomness?

Fooled by Randomness cover 02.jpgDespite what you might hear, Fooled by Randomness is not the perfect book. But it’s damn good. In particular, we’re fond of the Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s skepticism of the way success is often attributed to skill when luck is a more plausible explanation. (And this works the other way, where business failure is blamed on corruption or lack of talent rather than luck.) If more business writers read Fooled by Randomness we might get a lot less of the type of stories asserting that, say, a hedge fund succeeded because its managers were geniuses or failed because its managers failed to provide adequate controls.
We’re actually a bit ashamed by our affection for Fooled by Randomness. After all, it’s praised by nearly everyone and joining any particularly popular club of enthusiasts grates against our fanatically contrarian souls. So we hunt around for critiques of the book, hoping someone will save us.
Gary North’s critique of Fooled, however, kind of does the opposite. He argues, more or less, that Fooled is bad because it’s doesn’t like Warren Buffett enough and likes the theory of evolution too much. You see, according to North, it is luck that makes traders rich. It’s God.

What Taleb identifies as luck, I identify as the providence of God. He is a would-be Roman skeptic of the Stoic variety. I am a Christian.

Hmmm. This reminds us of another theory of salvation that we came across last year.
How Mr. Taleb Got Utterly Fooled by Randomness []