Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bond Traders & Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities

Our focus on New Journalism authors continues here at Newsworthy Novels.  Now that we've covered Hunter S. Thompson, let's move on to Tom Wolfe.

But first, the news.  From the March 13th Wall Street Journal article "Bond Trading Revives Banks:"
One of Wall Street's most important profit engines is revving back up. Rising appetites for borrowing and investing are fueling a bond market revival, lifting revenue at Wall Street firms that took a beating last year. 
For the first time in a year, traders and bankers are optimistic about the future following a dark second half of 2011. Layoffs, pay cuts and public outrage against the financial industry undermined morale at banks and securities firms, while economic malaise throttled banking and trading businesses.
Perhaps fiction's most famous bond trader is Sherman McCoy, from Tom Wolfe's classic novel The Bonfire of the Vanities:
On a clandestine date with his mistress one night, top Wall Street investment banker and snobbish WASP Sherman McCoy misses his turn on the thruway and gets lost in the South Bronx; his Mercedes hits and seriously injures a young black man. The incident is inflated by a manipulative black leader, a district attorney seeking reelection and a sleazy tabloid reporter into a full-blown scandal...
If you prefer non-fiction, you might like Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis:
In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through a powerful investment bank. From an unlikely beginning (art history at Princeton?) he rose in two short years from Salomon Brothers trainee to Geek (the lowest form of life on the trading floor) to Big Swinging Dick, the most dangerous beast in the jungle, a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call. With the eye and ear of a born storyteller, Michael Lewis shows us how things really worked on Wall Street. 

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