The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market

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9780061766275: The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market

They were a band of outsiders unable to get jobs with New York's gilded financial establishment. They would go on to corner the world's multitrillion-dollar oil market, reaping unimaginable riches while bringing the economy to its knees. Meet the self-anointed kings of the New York Mercantile Exchange. In some ways, they are everything you would expect them to be: a secretive, members-only club of men and women who live lavish lifestyles; cavort with politicians, strippers, and celebrities; and blissfully jacked up oil prices to nearly $150 a barrel while profiting off the misery of the working class. In other ways, they are nothing you can imagine: many come from working-class families themselves. The progeny of Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants who escaped war-torn Europe, they take pride in flagrantly spurning Wall Street. Under the thumb of an all-powerful international oil cartel, the energy market had long eluded the grasp of America's hungry capitalists. Neither the oil royalty of Houston nor the titans of Wall Street had ever succeeded in fully wresting away control. But facing extinction, the rough-and-tumble traders of Nymex led by the reluctant son of a produce merchant went after this Goliath and won, creating the world's first free oil market and minting billions in the process. Their stunning journey from poverty to prosperity belies the brutal and violent history that is their legacy. For the first time, The Asylum unmasks the oil market's self-described "inmates" in all their unscripted and dysfunctional glory: the happily married father from Long Island whose lust for money and power was exceeded only by his taste for cruel pranks; the Italian kung fu fighting gasoline trader whose ferocity in the trading pits earned him countless millions; the cheerful Nazi hunter who traded quietly by day and ambushed Nazi sympathizers by night; and the Irish-born femme fatale who outsmarted all but one of the exchange's chairmen the Hungarian emigre who, try as he might, could do nothing to rein in the oil market's unruly inhabitants. From the treacherous boardroom schemes to the hookers and blow of the trading pits; from the repeat terrorist attacks and FBI stings to the grand alliances and outrageous fortunes that brought the global economy to the brink, The Asylum ventures deep into the belly of the beast, revealing how raw ambition and the endless quest for wealth can change the very nature of both man and market. Showcasing seven years of research and hundreds of hours of interviews, Leah McGrath Goodman reveals what really happened behind the scenes as oil prices topped out and what choice the traders ultimately made when forced to choose between their longtime brotherhood and their precious oil monopoly.

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Review:

'A riveting tale of greed gone mad. Goodman nails the culture... A great ride for market fans.' --BusinessWeek

'Finance journalist Goodman traces Nymex's transformation into a colossus with a stranglehold on the sale of the world's energy. Goodman explores the lurid culture of Nymex traders, scruffy hustlers who shriek, swear and bring guns, drugs, and hookers right into the trading pit. One of the year's most colorful business histories.' --Publishers Weekly

'Welcome to a bet-on-anything, testosterone-drenched world...written with tremendous verve and insight.' --AR (Absolute Return + Alpha)

'Goodman wrote about Nymex for the Wall Street Journal before expanding her knowledge into a book...The inside look at a mostly closed institution is enlightening...Goodman's details about the infighting within Nymex membership are astounding, mainly because the members don t seem to realize they are destroying their path to wealth.' --Kirkus

'Goodman reveals a rough-and-tumble group with little formal education, who dress down, answer to no one, and are tougher than marines. Activities at the exchange are rife with cheating and overindulgence in drugs, prostitutes, and illegal gambling. Biting and infuriating, with even a 'Deep Throat' in the scoop.' --Booklist

'A seriously informative and amusing look into the oil trading pits.' --Huffington Post

'In the complex world of the energy markets where pit trading is a blue-collar profession, Goodman captures the grit and spirit of the floor and the personalities in the board room...her depiction of the players and the place to ring true.' --Reuters

'The Asylum is an inside look at how an underdog crew of uneducated, street-smart New York traders brawled and yelled, drank and drugged their way to control of the world s oil markets. With eye opening and entertaining first-hand accounts of life on the floor of the Nymex, Goodman explains why global catastrophes are nothing more than money-making opportunities for a small handful of traders. Newspapers report that the latest global catastrophe is pushing oil prices into the stratosphere, but Goodman and the residents of the Asylum know better...' --Fortune

'In the complex world of the energy markets where pit trading is a blue-collar profession, Goodman captures the grit and spirit of the floor and the personalities in the board room...her depiction of the players and the place to ring true.' --Reuters

'The Asylum is an inside look at how an underdog crew of uneducated, street-smart New York traders brawled and yelled, drank and drugged their way to control of the world s oil markets. With eye opening and entertaining first-hand accounts of life on the floor of the Nymex, Goodman explains why global catastrophes are nothing more than money-making opportunities for a small handful of traders. Newspapers report that the latest global catastrophe is pushing oil prices into the stratosphere, but Goodman and the residents of the Asylum know better...' --Fortune

From the Back Cover:

For the first time, hear the story of the rise and ruin of the global oil market— in the words of the oil traders who built it.

Meet the self-anointed kings of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the place where global oil prices are set to this day. In some ways, they are everything you would expect them to be: a secretive, members-only club of men and women who live lavish lifestyles; cavort with politicians, strippers, and celebrities; and blissfully jack up oil prices while profiting off the misery of the working class.

In other ways, they are nothing you can imagine: many come from working-class families themselves, the progeny of Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants who escaped war-torn Europe to claw their way to the top.

Led by the reluctant son of a produce merchant, the rough-and-tumble traders of Nymex usurped the power of Big Oil in the 1980s to create an even bigger and more dangerous colossus—an all-too-human experiment in how raw ambition and the endless quest for wealth can change the very nature of both man and market.

Part oral history and part exposé, The Asylum ventures deep into the belly of the beast, revealing how the unchecked and incestuous relationships between Washington and Wall Street paved the way for an era of $100 oil. From the grand alliances to the outrageous fortunes that have repeatedly brought the economy to the brink, this is one real-life story both Washington and Wall Street don't want you to read.

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