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Essay on Liars Poker by Michael Lewis

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The novel Liars Poker by Michael Lewis is very interesting firsthand account of an inside look into the investment banking world, in particular bond trading at the firm Solomon Brothers in the 1980s. Lewis took an interesting and roundabout way to end up on Wall Street, studying art history at Yale and bombing his interview with Lehman Brothers but he eventually found himself at Solomon Brothers through a lucky encounter with two managing directors wives. Through his book Michael Lewis conveys the inner workings of investment banks in the 1980s to the average person using his own experience at Solomon Brothers. The book goes into Lewis’s own rise in the firm as well as the rise and fall of the entire Solomon Brothers Mortgage department.
A major theme in the novel is exposing Wall Streets greed and brutality. The Story begins with Solomon Brothers chairman John Gutfreund challenging board member John Meriwether to a game of Liars Poker, a card game, with one million dollars at stake. Meriwether raises his bet to ten million, setting the scene for the brutish and greed filled novel. Once at Solomon, Lewis is first placed in the training program on the forty-first floor. The training program, as well as the rest of the floor, is mostly comprised of white men in perpetual competition with each other. In the front row of the program are the attentive, nerdier trainees while the back row is described as rowdy and mischievous. The forty first floor was ruled by “The Law of the Jungle” where the traders beat down on the trainees, the back row trainees always stirred up trouble and the only focus was money. Good, bad or evil didn’t matter as long as it made the firm, and the traders, rich. The trading floor at Solomon Brot...


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...asy scapegoat because nobody ever knew what the Arabs were doing with their money, which made the explanation hard to prove for or against. In reality, these steep market fluctuations weren’t the cause of mysterious money moving in the Middle East but only a scapegoat as the Wall Street bankers often had no idea what moved the markets.
I found the book a very interesting account of life on Wall Street especially because I hope to go into Investment Banking and my dad worked on Wall Street as well. While many of the themes expose the negatives of Wall Street, Lewis narrated from a more neutral point of view, leaving the reader to come to conclusions themselves. Even after reading Liars Poker and learning some of the negatives of Wall Street a career the still business seems very interesting but I believe the book was helpful to know what I would be getting into.



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