House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street
A blistering narrative account of the negligence and greed that pushed all of Wall Street into chaos and the country into a financial crisis.
At the beginning of March 2008, the monetary fabric of Bear Stearns, one of the world’s oldest and largest investment banks, began unraveling. After ten days, the bank no longer existed, its assets sold under duress to rival JPMorgan Chase. The effects would be felt nationwide, as the country suddenly found itself in the grip of the worst financial mess since the Great Depression. William Cohan exposes the corporate arrogance, power struggles, and deadly combination of greed and inattention, which led to the collapse of not only Bear Stearns but the very foundations of Wall Street.
Very Vanity Fair in style, maybe half the story
By T. Tepe - March 20, 2009
I have been a banker for 20 years and have specific experience with asset backed securities so I think I am better prepared to read this book than most, but certainly not all, people.
Cohan writes with great flair and a style best compared to celebrity profiles in Vanity Fair. He clearly had extraordinary access to former BSC execs, especially Paul Friedman and Jimmy Cayne. It seems like one of these two is speaking in verbatim quote most of the time. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. That said, I'm not comfortable with the book. It's half the story selected because the bits make for a dishy, dirt rich read. To me, Cohan was more concerned about writing a best-seller than he was about telling the whole story in some sort of reasonable context.
I agree with the reviewer that said the book was rushed into print. The editing, especially in the second half is pretty bad. There are repeated references to antecedent events that must have... read more
Well Told Story of Serious Financial Mismanagement
By Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" - March 10, 2009
"House of Cards" reports on the collapse of the investment banking house Bear Stearns (America's fifth-largest investment bank), and the beginning of the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression. Cohan's background as an investment banker allows him to cut through the complexity to explain what happened in simple, clear terms.
Bear Stearns had survived every crisis of the 20th century, including the Great Depression - without a single losing quarter - until the end of 2007. In 1997, Bear Stearns had helped pioneer the subprime mortgage-backed security by serving as co-underwriter on a $385 million offering. By the mid-2000s, it was the market leader in this segment.
The focus of the book is the last ten days of Bear Stearns, leading up to its absorption by J.P. Morgan at a fire-sale price ($10/share, down from $167; less than the value of its $1.5 billion office building), greased by $30 billion in Federal Reserve funds. (The Fed was worried that a... read more
Way juicier but sort of like watching dominoes fall
By Amy Y. "Tell me, what is it you plan to do wi... - March 11, 2009
Cohan details the bursting of the bubble in a book that reads like part gossip columnist, part financial thriller. Talk about making your average Jane feel smart, Cohan makes the big names of Wall Street look like a bunch of rats scurrying about thinking they have won the cheese when really they are about to get the big, gut-popping smack-down.
I enjoyed this read because, aside from being mildly fascinated by economics, it does seem to answer the question that most American are now asking as they look at their 401Ks, retirement plan statements, and now-empty stock portfolios: "What the hell were they thinking?"
Calling it a 'House of Cards' is quite apt as Cohan shows us how multi-million, er, make it billion, dollar empires were built on quicksand: stuff backed by things backed by more stuff, sorta.
This is some seriously fascinating stuff- many of the chapters read like a financial drama cum thriller. Cohan puts the reader in the middle of the... read more
This is an OCR edition without illustrations or index. It may have numerous typos or missing text. However, purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original rare book from the publisher's ...