Trading Book Reviews

Book Review: Bond Girl

[easyazon-link asin=”0062065904″][/easyazon-link]Got an interest in Wall Street and want some fairly light-weight fiction to read? If so, [easyazon-link asin=”0062065904″]Bond Girl by Erin Duffy[/easyazon-link], may fit the bill. It is, in short, the narrative of a young woman’s experience working on a bond sales desk at a major financial institution. Think of it as [easyazon-link asin=”039333869X”]Liars Poker[/easyazon-link] (the book that launched Michael Lewis) written from a female perspective, set in the lead-up to the Financial Crisis rather than the Crash of ’87, but without as much of the detail and with less of a moralistic undertone. Lewis was writing of his own experience specifically, but while Duffy’s is a work of fiction, it definitely has a strong feeling of realism throughout, which leads one to suspect quite a bit of the author’s own experience has made its way into the book.

Those looking for a lot of insight into the markets or financial operations on trading desks will be disappointed. There isn’t much. This is a book written by a woman about a woman’s experience trying to navigate her way in a largely male-dominated arena. Some of what the lead character (Alex) goes through would also be experienced by a male in terms of her treatment as a freshly hired analyst (lowest level of trading desk employee), but it takes on a different perspective seen through a young woman’s eyes. Most of the story involves relationships and trading room antics rather than stories about trades and deals and the like.

While I found the end of Bond Girl rather abrupt and disappointing, it did do the desired job of making the train trips I read it on go faster. If you go into it with serious expectations, you’ll likely be disappointed, but if you pick it up as a light read then you’ll probably find it fairly enjoyable.

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Video Review: Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps

Over the weekend I finally got around to watching Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps, the sequel to Wall Street. The latter is widely considered a classic. I’m confident the sequel won’t be viewed in the same light 20 years from now, unfortunately. I’m not saying it’s a bad film in general terms. It just doesn’t live up to the original and lacks some creativity.

The thing I came away from Money Never Sleeps thinking was that it lacked the edge of the original. Shia Labeouf does not have anywhere near the same kind of screen presence as Charlie Sheen did (Bud Fox makes a brief appearance in the sequel, by the way), leaving the direct inter-personal conflicts which feature in the story – verbal as they may be – less impactful. And the lack of one strong antagonist character (Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko sometimes is one, sometimes isn’t) tends to diffuse the tension.

In terms of the story, if you’ve read much about the history of the financial crisis – especially On the Brink, by Hank Paulson – you will see a very strong similarity in the early parts of Money Never Sleeps. There’s also a firm that is portrayed very much in the way Goldman Sachs was portrayed in recent years. To top it all off, Gekko has very John Paulson-like success in the markets.

I do think the new film does a pretty good job reflecting how information moves around these days. Blogs, instant messaging, and the like feature along side the traditional phone and in-person interaction. Overall, though, I’d give it a middling rating. Gekko’s semi-reformed character is the only one that’s really interesting and the story is flat and somewhat disjointed.

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A Couple of Trading Related Films

Question. Have you seen the new Wall Street film, Money Never Sleeps? If so, what did you think?

The original film is, of course, a classic. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it over the years, and no doubt will see it again several times in the future. I haven’t, as yet, seen the new one, but I fully expect to do so.Â

It seems like the box office figures haven’t held up very well, but that’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the film where someone from a markets background is concerned. This doesn’t strike me as being one that requires the big screen experience, however, so I can see myself waiting for it to come out on DVD.

Should I not do that? I’d love to hear from folks who been. If so, leave a comment below with your thoughts.

A film I did see recently is Floored, the documentary about the decline of pit trading in the Chicago futures exchange arena. It was screened at the Vegas Futures & Forex expo, with the director in attendance. There were some interesting elements, but I’m not going to sing its praises from the rooftops or anything like that. Basically, it’s a tale of a disappearing business, which is part of they way things work in a free enterprise society. New, better ways replace older ones and folks who cannot adopt are left behind.

One of the most amazing scenes in Floored is one where a guy who clearly has embraced computer assisted trading is facing off against a floor trader. The latter is ranting about how computers are evil. It’s sad, really.