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When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by [Roger Lowenstein]

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When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,699 ratings

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On September 23, 1998, the boardroom of the New York Fed was a tense place. Around the table sat the heads of every major Wall Street bank, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and representatives from numerous European banks, each of whom had been summoned to discuss a highly unusual prospect: rescuing what had, until then, been the envy of them all, the extraordinarily successful bond-trading firm of Long-Term Capital Management. Roger Lowenstein's When Genius Failed is the gripping story of the Fed's unprecedented move, the incredible heights reached by LTCM, and the firm's eventual dramatic demise.

Lowenstein, a financial journalist and author of Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, examines the personalities, academic experts, and professional relationships at LTCM and uncovers the layers of numbers behind its roller-coaster ride with the precision of a skilled surgeon. The fund's enigmatic founder, John Meriwether, spent almost 20 years at Salomon Brothers, where he formed its renowned Arbitrage Group by hiring academia's top financial economists. Though Meriwether left Salomon under a cloud of the SEC's wrath, he leapt into his next venture with ease and enticed most of his former Salomon hires--and eventually even David Mullins, the former vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve--to join him in starting a hedge fund that would beat all hedge funds.

LTCM began trading in 1994, after completing a road show that, despite the Ph.D.-touting partners' lack of social skills and their disdainful condescension of potential investors who couldn't rise to their intellectual level, netted a whopping $1.25 billion. The fund would seek to earn a tiny spread on thousands of trades, "as if it were vacuuming nickels that others couldn't see," in the words of one of its Nobel laureate partners, Myron Scholes. And nickels it found. In its first two years, LTCM earned $1.6 billion, profits that exceeded 40 percent even after the partners' hefty cuts. By the spring of 1996, it was holding $140 billion in assets. But the end was soon in sight, and Lowenstein's detailed account of each successively worse month of 1998, culminating in a disastrous August and the partners' subsequent panicked moves, is riveting.

The arbitrageur's world is a complicated one, and it might have served Lowenstein well to slow down and explain in greater detail the complex terms of the more exotic species of investment flora that cram the book's pages. However, much of the intrigue of the Long-Term story lies in its dizzying pace (not to mention the dizzying amounts of money won and lost in the fund's short lifespan). Lowenstein's smooth, conversational but equally urgent tone carries it along well. The book is a compelling read for those who've always wondered what lay behind the Fed's controversial involvement with the LTCM hedge-fund debacle. --S. Ketchum

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In late September 1998, the New York Federal Reserve Bank invited a number of major Wall Street investment banks to enter a consortium to fund the multibillion-dollar bailout of a troubled hedge fund. No sooner was the $3.6-billion plan announced than questions arose about why usually independent banks would band together to save a single privately held fund. The short answer is that the banks feared that the fund's collapse could destabilize the entire stock market. The long answer, which Lowenstein (Buffett) provides in undigested detail, may panic those who shudder at the thought of bouncing a $200 check. Long-Term Capital Management opened for business in February 1994 with $1.25 billion in funds. Armed with the cachet of its founders' stellar credentials (Robert Merton and Myron Scholes, 1997 Nobel Prize laureates in economics, were among the partners), it quickly parlayed expertise at reading computer models of financial markets and seemingly limitless access to financing into stunning results. By the end of 1995, it had tripled its equity capital and total assets had grown to $102 billion. Lowenstein argues that this kind of success served to enhance the fund's golden legend and sent the partners' self-confidence off the charts. As he itemizes the complex mix of investments and heavy borrowing that made 1994-1997 profitable years, Lowenstein also charts the subtle drift toward riskier (and ultimately disastrous) ventures as the fund's traditional profit centers dried up. What should have been a gripping story, however, has been poorly handled by Lowenstein, who obscures his narrative with masses of data and overwritten prose. Agent, Melanie Jackson. Author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B000FC1KZC
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House; 1st edition (Jan. 18 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1041 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 1,699 ratings

About the author

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Roger Lowenstein (born in 1954) is an American financial journalist and writer. He graduated from Cornell University and reported for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade, including two years writing its Heard on the Street column, 1989 to 1991. Born in 1954, he is the son of Helen and Louis Lowenstein of Larchmont, N.Y. Lowenstein is married to Judith Slovin.

He is also a director of Sequoia Fund. His father, the late Louis Lowenstein, was an attorney and Columbia University law professor who wrote books and articles critical of the American financial industry.

Roger Lowenstein's latest book, America's Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve (The Penguin Press) was released on October 20, 2015.

Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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Top reviews from other countries

Hamizan Amran
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book that details the rise and fall of LTCM in precise detail
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 1, 2019
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8 people found this helpful
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SEA WARRIOR
4.0 out of 5 stars GRIPPING STORY, WELL TOLD
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 21, 2020
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Garrett McQuaid
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting especially now we see one of the big Sovereign Funds now copying that failed strategy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on February 21, 2022
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EV
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone interested in financial markets needs to read this
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 8, 2015
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3 people found this helpful
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badams
3.0 out of 5 stars i preferred dunbar's "inventing money"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on June 26, 2014
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2 people found this helpful
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