Wall Street for the Uninitiated

For a large number of us who are uninitiated in the workings of the stock market or Wall Street, the frenzy of recent news related to the GameStop stock trades has been stupefying to say the least.

Movies like  The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street have offered diverting peeks into the world of the stock market for a number of us who have no reason or inclination to understand the world of hedge funds, short selling, or day trading.

Here are a few books/ebooks that may help you glean some understanding of the working of these financial systems; others offer compelling accounts of some major crises that have shaken the financial world.

The big short : inside the doomsday machine by Michael Lewis

Lewis provides a fascinating account of a small group of investors who anticipated the financial collapse of 2008 , bet against the market by selling short, and realized enormous gains in doing so. He explains the complex world of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), credit default swaps, and other financial instruments. He chronicles the unfolding subprime mortgage crisis and how, when the real estate bubble burst, the value of CDOs collapsed and the short sellers profited. Throughout, Lewis integrates the stories of the iconoclastic individuals who made fortunes by shorting mortgage CDOs and purchasing swaps.

Black edge : inside information, dirty money, and the quest to bring down the most wanted man on Wall Street by Sheelah Kolhatkar.

This tour de force of groundbreaking reporting and brilliant storytelling, traces the rise and fall of stock trader Steven Cohen and his hedge fund, SAC Capital, as well as the FBI and SEC investigations that led to several convictions for insider trading (though not of Cohen himself). Kolhatkar describes the nuts and bolts of hedge funds in a way accessible to the non-insider.  She pulls back the curtain on the cheating, corruption, and skulduggery that underlie large swaths of the hedge fund industry and some of Wall Street’s most fabled fortunes. 

Flash boys : a Wall Street revolt by Michael Lewis

This book is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post-financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, they band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading, source of the most intractable problems, will have no advantage whatsoever.  The author shines a light into the darkest corners of the financial world, where anyone in contact with the market, even a retirement account, is part of the story. 

Flash crash : a trading savant, a global manhunt, and the most mysterious market crash in history by Liam Vaughn

The riveting story of a trading prodigy who amassed $70 million from his childhood bedroom–until the US government accused him of helping trigger an unprecedented market collapse.  A real-life financial thriller uncovering the remarkable, behind-the-scenes narrative of a mystifying market crash in May 2010 , a globe-spanning investigation into international fraud, and the man at the center of them both.  Depending on whom you ask, Sarao was a scourge, a symbol of a financial system run horribly amok, or a folk hero who took on the tyranny of Wall Street and the high-frequency traders.

The Little Book of Hedge Funds: Little Books, Big Profits by Anthony Scaramucci

An accessible overview of hedge funds, from their historical origin, to their perceived effect on the global economy, to why individual investors should understand how they work, The Little Book of Hedge Funds is essential reading for anyone seeking the tools and information needed to invest in this lucrative yet mysterious world.

The man who solved the market : how Jim Simons launched the quant revolution by Gregory Zuckerman

A veteran Wall Street Journal investigative reporter tells the gripping story of how a world-class mathematician and former code breaker mastered the market. Simons pioneered a data-driven, algorithmic approach that’s sweeping the world.

Mastering the market cycle : getting the odds on your side by Howard S. Marks

One of the most successful Wall Street investors of all time provides practical insight and keen analysis on how to track, and react to, the ups and downs of the stock market. Marks reveals the hidden logic in carefully pinpointing market trends so that every investor can profit.

More money than god : hedge funds and the making of a new elite by Sebastian Mallaby

A chronicle of the evolution of hedge funds from their origins in the 1960s to their role in the 2008 economic crisis, discussing the contributions of key figures while offering insight into how they have weathered recent financial setbacks and are defining future trends.

A random walk down Wall Street : the time-tested strategy for successful investing by Burton G. Malkiel

A trusted investment guide filled with core insights and expert advice on stocks, bonds, money markets, real estate investment trusts, home ownership and more.; also updated with information on exchange-traded funds and investment opportunities in emerging markets.

The rule : how I beat the odds in the markets and life-and you can too by Larry Hite

Legendary trader and hedge fund pioneer Larry Hite recounts his working-class upbringing in Brooklyn as a dyslexic, partially blind kid who was anything but a model student-and how he went on to found and run Mint Investment Management Company, one of the most profitable and largest quantitative hedge funds in the world.  Hite’s wild success is based on his deep understanding that markets are flawed-just like people. Making a successful living in trading isn’t about beating the markets. It’s about meeting markets where they are, embracing the fact of risk, knowing yourself, and playing it strictly by the numbers.

Stock investing  by Paul Mladjenovic

This new edition gives you proven strategies for selecting the stock of solid, winning companies and helps you build your portfolio for either growth, cashflow (dividends) or both. You will be able to navigate confidently through the post-pandemic period and through the market’s rollercoaster ride and learn which types of stocks are best in a recession or stagnant economy.

The wisdom of finance : discovering humanity in the world of risk and return by Mihir Desai

The Harvard Business School professor draws upon literature, film, philosophy, and history to argue that, at the core of finance and financial practices, there is a place for principles, ethics, and humanity.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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