Wall Street: A History: From Its Beginnings to the Fall of Enron

Wall Street: A History: From Its Beginnings to the Fall of Enron

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FREE for a limited time

Wall Street: A History: From Its Beginnings to the Fall of Enron

Wall Street: A History: From Its Beginnings to the Fall of Enron

Read

FREE for a limited time

Synopsis

In the seven years since the publication of the first edition of Wall Street, America's financial industry has undergone a series of wrenching events that have dramatically changed the nation's economic landscape. The bull market of the 1990's came to a close, ushering in the end of the dot com boom, a record number of mergers occurred, and accounting scandals in companies like Enron and WorldCom shook the financial industry to its core. In this wide-ranging volume, financial historian Charles Geisst provides the first history of Wall Street, explaining how a small, concentrated pocket of lower Manhattan came to have such enormous influence in national and world affairs. In this updated edition, Geisst sums up the recent turbulence that has threatened America's financial industry. He shows how in 1997 thirty NASDAQ market makers paid a record $1.3 billion fine for price irregularities in stocks. He makes sense of the closing of the bull market, and explains a major change in the accounting rules for mergers that caused monumental losses for companies like AOL Time Warner. And he recounts how in the aftermath of the speculative fever that swept Wall Street in the 1990's, the scandals at Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, and Conseco represent a last gasp of mergermania and a fallout from a bubble-like market. Wall Street is at once the story of the street itself, from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant, to the modern billion-dollar computer-driven colossus of today. In a broader sense it is an engaging economic history of the United States, the role Wall Street played in making America the most powerful economy in the world, and the many challenges to that role it has faced in recent years.

Excerpt

This is the first history of Wall Street. From the Street's earliest beginnings, it has never had its own complete history chronicling the major events in finance and government that changed the way securities were created and traded. Despite its tradition of self-reliance, it has not developed without outside influence. Over the years, government has had a great deal to do with Wall Street's development, more than financiers would like to admit.

Like the society it reflects, Wall Street has grown extraordinarily complicated over the last two centuries. New markets have sprung up, functions have been divided, and the sheer size of trading volume has expanded dramatically. But the core of the Street's business would still be recognized by a nineteenth-century trader. Daniel Drew and Jacob Little would still recognize many trading techniques and basic financial instruments. Fortunately, their philosophies for taking advantage of others have been replaced with investor protections and a bevy of securities laws designed to keep the poachers out of the henhouse, where they had comfortably resided for almost 150 years.

Bull markets and bear markets are the stuff that Wall Street is made of. The boom and bust cycle began early, when the Street was just an outdoor market in lower Manhattan. The first major trauma that shook the market was a bubble brought on by rampant land speculation that shook the very heart of New York's infant financial community. In the intervening two hundred years, much has changed, but the Street still has not shaken off . . .

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