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130 Michael Lewis: Liar’s Poker

“Liar’s Poker” is a first-hand account of the greed, excess, and dysfunction of Wall Street in the 1980s, from the perspective of a young bond trader.

Michael Lewis: Liar's Poker


"Liar's Poker" is a memoir of Michael Lewis's time as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s, a period of rapid growth and excess in the world of Wall Street finance. The book provides a first-hand account of the culture of greed, deception, and arrogance that characterized the era, as well as the human toll that it took on those caught up in it. From the cutthroat competition among traders to the lavish parties and excesses of the corporate elite, Lewis paints a vivid picture of a world driven by profit and ego, where the pursuit of wealth often came at the expense of basic decency and morality. Ultimately, the book is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked greed and the need for greater accountability and regulation in the financial industry.


Title: Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Author: Michael Lewis

Publishing Year: 2022

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company

Length in hours: 10 hours and 16 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The world of Wall Street finance in the 1980s was characterized by excess, greed, and dysfunction.
  2. Bond trading was a cutthroat and highly competitive industry, driven by profit and ego.
  3. The culture of Wall Street often prioritized short-term gains and personal enrichment over long-term stability and societal benefit.
  4. The excesses of the financial industry had a human toll, as individuals were consumed by the pressures of the job and the pursuit of wealth.
  5. The events described in "Liar's Poker" underscore the need for greater accountability and regulation in the financial industry to prevent similar excesses and abuses from occurring in the future.
Michael Lewis: Liar's Poker

5 funny quotes

  1. "Salomon Brothers: the place where dreams came to die."
  2. "I was a young man with an expensive education and no particular skills, so naturally I went into finance."
  3. "The trading floor was like a scene from the Wild West, with a bunch of cowboys trying to outshoot each other."
  4. "Bond traders were like a cult, speaking their own language and following their own bizarre rituals."
  5. "The best thing about working on Wall Street was that you never had to worry about what to wear to work - it was always a suit and tie."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The place had become a casino in which no one could lose, only run out of chips."
  2. "I was training my replacements, and they were machines."
  3. "The culture of Wall Street wasn't just greed; it was a complete lack of conscience."
  4. "The point was not to control the game, but to make sure no one else could."
  5. "Salomon Brothers was a firm that defined itself by the amount of money it made, the speed with which it made it, and nothing else."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the pursuit of profit with ethical considerations and social responsibility.
  2. Navigating the tension between long-term stability and short-term gains in the financial industry.
  3. Addressing the systemic risks and potential for abuse in complex financial instruments and markets.
  4. Balancing the need for competition and innovation with the need for accountability and regulation in the financial industry.
  5. Recognizing the human toll of Wall Street excess and the need for greater work-life balance and mental health support in high-stress industries.

5 examples

  1. John Meriwether: The bond trader who revolutionized the industry with his use of complex financial instruments, and later led the disastrous hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management.
  2. John Gutfreund: The CEO of Salomon Brothers during its heyday, who was brought down by a scandal involving illegal bids in Treasury bond auctions.
  3. Lewis Ranieri: The bond salesman who pioneered the mortgage-backed securities market, a key component of the 2008 financial crisis.
  4. David Solomon: The current CEO of Goldman Sachs, who got his start as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s.
  5. Michael Milken: The junk bond king who became a symbol of Wall Street excess and was later convicted of securities fraud.

Referenced books

  1. "Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe
  2. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" by Edwin Lefèvre
  4. "Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco" by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
  5. "Den of Thieves" by James B. Stewart

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"The culture of Wall Street wasn't just greed; it was a complete lack of conscience."

Michael Lewis: Liar's Poker
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