Since the beginning of high school, I have had an interest in finance and economics, mainly because my parents are both analysts, and as I have taken more classes to explore the field of finance, I have found that I too, am hoping to start a career in finance. As a prospective finance major and hopeful analyst, my father gave me a few books to explore individual careers in finance. The first of which was “Liar’s Poker,” a semi-autobiography detailing Michael Lewis’ rise on Wall Street as an bond trader at Salomon Brothers.
The book begins with the chairman of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, and a bond trader, John Meriwether, playing a mind game called liar’s poker, in which they bet on the serial numbers of a dollar bill. While it may appear that the two men are just playing a game, the very core of Liar’s Poker, reading other people, is central to a career on Wall Street.
Michael Lewis ends up landing a job at Salomon Brothers, and is put into their rigorous, one year training program where he is to learn about bond trading. After the training, Michael becomes a bond trader, and throughout the next ten-ish years, Salomon changes CEOs multiple times, with two of them ending up in jail (they’re kind of like Illinois), and eventually, Salomon becomes the target for a hostile takeover by Drexel Burnham. Further, the economy crashed in 1987, and while Salomon had to cut most of its employees, Lewis was instead rewarded with a large bonus, and Salomon continued to operate. The book finishes with Lewis quitting his job because he feels his pay should reflect the amount of good he does for society, and he doesn’t think he deserves his salary because selling bonds doesn’t do all that much for society.