On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir

 
9780071360494: On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir

A leader's provocative look at 20th century financial markets Henry Kaufman, former vice Chairman of Salomon Brothers, was a key Wall Street figure in the 70s and 80s. His projections about interest rates, bond performance, unemployment, and government debt impacted monetary policy in more than one presidential administration, and prompted swings in the markets. You'll find On Money and Markets --Dr. Kaufman's look back at the financial and economic arenas he helped shape for half a century -- both fascinating and valuable. His memoir gives you insight into such questions as why the Federal Reserve has gained so much power, and what it means for investors....and what patterns we can see in the credit crunches and other financial crises that have rocked Wall Street and world markets. The dozen or so questions he explores are of serious concern to today's investors. And few other experts have Dr. Kaufman's perspective and experience to answer them.

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Review:

A giant among pundits, Henry Kaufman is the Wall Street legend who founded the science of Federal Reserve watching, now a popular spectator sport. In a career that spans the last 50 years, his views and forecasts have grown increasingly influential and his pronouncements often move markets, earning him the sobriquet "Dr. Doom" because of his oft-expressed concern about financial excesses and the failure of regulators to take steps to prevent them from occurring. "Policy cannot be predicated on the assumption that reasonable financial behavior is the norm," he writes. On Money and Markets is both a personal memoir and a historical retrospective in which he elaborates on these concerns and prescribes a reorganization of the IMF and the World Bank and the creation of a new international entity to monitor major financial institutions and markets.

Kaufman believes himself "more sensitized than many native-born Americans to economic developments that might endanger the country--a concern that dates back to my formative years, when I listened to my grandfather's recitation of the German hyperinflation of the 1920s--how it contributed to the rise of Nazism and thus forced us to flee Germany". Starting as a $45-a-week bank credit analyst in 1949, Kaufman joined Salomon Brothers in 1962 to build a world-class research department, later becoming a senior partner and vice chairman. He was the first person at Salomon to hold a doctoral degree, beginning a trend in the financial community towards greater analytical sophistication, one that would broaden and deepen in later decades. When he began interest-rate analysis and forecasting, information on the Federal Reserve was rare, and his observations quickly gained a large audience of investors, fund managers, economists, and policymakers. He writes "in spite of its imperfections, the Federal Reserve comes closer to being an independent and objective arbiter and policy body than any other institution in our economic democracy."

He concludes the book by looking backward a century for a sense of perspective on the role of finance in the modern world. Former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, Kaufman's contemporary, rightly suggests in the foreword that this book "should be prescribed reading for all whose future and fortunes are tied to the performance of our financial system". --Scott Harrison

Review:

The author describes his escape from Nazi Germany, his growing fame as Dr. Gloom and his feuds with John Gutfreund, the former boss at Solomon Brothers. As a market historian and scientist, Mr. Kaufman, 72 continues to spend more time talking about the effects of gravity than the miracles of rocketry. "How many bankers or heads of corporations are trained in financial history?" he asked. "Those who don't know about the errors or the past become greater risk-takers in the future."

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