John Brooks

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

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Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read.” —Bill Gates, The Wall Street Journal
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.
Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. Longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks’s insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.
Five additional stories on equally fascinating subjects round out this wonderful collection that will both entertain and inform readers . . . Business Adventures is truly financial journalism at its liveliest and best.
This book is currently unavailable
569 printed pages
Original publication
2014

Impressions

    洪一萍shared an impressionlast year

    For one thing, there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.

    1. A lesson from the 1962 Flash Crash:
    At their core, humans are basically emotional, irrational beings. Over the course of only three days, fear and panic led the stock market to plummet $20 billion only to boomerang back up a day later. Facts are a lot less compelling than the dictates of the lizard brain.
    2. A lesson from the Ford Edsel fiasco:
    Pay close attention to your market. Customers’ wishes can change very quickly and it’s important to keep a finger on the collective pulse. When Ford wasn’t looking, mid-sized dropped off of their buying radar.
    3. A lesson from the federal income tax system:
    Sometimes, the best solution is to scrap it. Over the years, the US tax system became so convoluted, corrupt, and loophole laden that it now encourages inefficiency. The only real recourse would be a do-over.
    4. A lesson from the Texas Gulf case of 1959:
    Just as people are inherently irrational, you can also count on them to be pretty self serving, too. In summary: when Texas Gulf executives found out about mineral-rich ground the company had just struck, they slowly began buying up stock shares and telling their families to follow suit – all the while denying the find to the public. Thus, insider trading laws were born.
    5. A lesson from Xerox’s rollercoaster success:
    Never trust a rapid success. Nobody expected copy machines to take off when Xerox launched its product in 1959, but by 1964, revenue was so good that the company could afford to drop $4 million to support the UN. By 1965, however, Xerox was in trouble: while they’d been busy philanthropizing, competitors had caught up fast.
    6. A lesson from Piggly Wiggly’s investment debacle:
    Revenge isn’t actually so sweet – and it certainly doesn’t pay. To teach them a lesson, incensed Piggly Wiggly owner Clarence Saunders sought to buy back all of his stock from tricksy prospectors. What he got instead was near bankruptcy.
    7. A lesson from the Bretton Woods Conference of ‘64:
    A small group of determined individuals can prevail against a bigger, stronger foe. When a collective of savvy prospectors believed Britain couldn’t keep up the currency exchange rates, they started betting against the pound in the market. Despite odds (and a strong central bank alliance against them) they won.

    Ostin Gerardoshared an impressionlast year

    Me encantaria leerlo, pero no lo tienen en Español.

Quotes

    syssys197has quoted4 years ago
    floor brokers, after completing a trade, would
    ujteuzvbuhas quoted8 months ago
    posed to have made to a naïve acquaintance who had ventured to ask the great man what the market was going to do. “It will fluctuate,” replied Morgan dryly. And it has many other distinctive characteristics. Apart from the economic advantages and disadvantages of stock exchanges—the advantage that they provide a free flow of capital to finance industrial expansion, for instance, and the disadvantage that they provide an all too convenient way for the unlucky, the imprudent, and the gullible to lose their money—their development has created a whole pattern of social behavior, complete with customs, language, and predictable responses to given events. What is truly extraordinary is the speed with which this pattern emerged full blown following the establishment, in 1611, o
    洪一萍has quotedlast year
    “There is no possible protection from technology except by technology,” he wrote. “When you create a new environment with one phase of technology, you have to create an anti-environment with the next.” But authors are seldom good at technology, and probably do not flourish in anti-environments.

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