Money and Power
Book

Money and Power

How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

Doubleday, 2011 more...

Editorial Rating

8

Qualities

  • Comprehensive
  • Overview

Recommendation

Whether you think Goldman Sachs is “doing “God’s work” or acting like a money-sucking “vampire squid,” William D. Cohan, a journalist and former investment banker, will challenge your opinion with his sweeping history of the vaunted Wall Street firm. From its beginnings in the 19th century to its dominance in the 20th and its slight ebb in the 21st, Goldman Sachs presents a fascinating case study of the talent, determination and hubris that informs Wall Street. Cohan compiles top reporting with interviews with Goldman’s current and former leaders, and with insiders, outsiders, pundits and critics, to present a detailed, sometimes tedious but usually riveting look at the complex, secretive company. getAbstract recommends this history to those compelled by the enigma that is Goldman Sachs.

Summary

“The Big Short”

At the end of 2006, convinced that real estate was about to take a dive, traders at Goldman Sachs began hedging their transactions against the mortgage securities market. Though Goldman was a major issuer and distributor of mortgage securities, the firm offset losses on that portfolio with profits earned on its big short. The downward revaluations the firm made on its mortgage securities forced other firms to recognize their losses and added fire to the financial meltdown. Soon, the values of portfolios at Bear Stearns’s hedge funds, and Bear Stearns itself, plummeted. The ensuing chain reaction led to the collapses of Bear and Lehman Brothers, and to the near extinction of several other banks, insurance companies and investment firms.

Goldman made enemies in Washington, DC, when its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, insisted his firm hadn’t needed the government’s bailout to recover. A peeved President Barack Obama remarked, “These guys want to be paid like rock stars when all they’re doing is lip-synching capitalism.”

Beginnings

Marcus Goldman established a firm in 1869 to buy and sell merchants’ short-term debts. As he made his way through the ...

About the Author

Best-selling finance author William D. Cohan, a former investment banker, wrote The Last Tycoons and House of Cards.


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