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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (Anglais) Broché – 12 août 2014


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Présentation de l'éditeur

From Wall Street to Main Street, John Brooks, longtime contributor to the New Yorker, brings to life in vivid fashion twelve classic and timeless tales of corporate and financial life in America.

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. 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 listeners. . . Business Adventures is truly financial journalism at its liveliest and best. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

Biographie de l'auteur

John Brooks (1920–1993) was an award-winning writer best known for his contributions to the New Yorker as a financial journalist. He was also the author of ten nonfiction books on business and finance, a number of which were critically acclaimed works examining Wall Street and the corporate world. His books Once in Golconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .


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Amazon.com: 147 commentaires
58 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
It's Great to Have This Title Back 13 juillet 2014
Par Stephen M. St Onge - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Back in the Late Bronze Age, aka the 1970s, I discovered John Brooks and his marvelous accounts of Wall Street and USAmerican business. Brooks died in 1993, and his books have been half-forgotten. I'm very pleased to see this title rereleased in digital format, and I hope all his works are appear soon as eBooks.

This book casts a wide net over the USAmerican business and investing scene, always with with and insight. There's a lot to be learned here, as Brooks examines the three-day stock market mini-crash of 1962, how Ford lost a bundle on the Edsel, how GE broke the anti-trust laws, how Xerox became very wealthy (later, Xerox became very broke, but that was after this article) . . . all great stuff.

Rereading these after forty years, I'm impressed with Brooks ability to get to the bottom of things, especially when there is no "bottom". Why did the New York Stock exchange lose over 5% one day in 1962, then rally suddenly? No one really knows, but Brooks examines the chaos of that day, and dissects the explanations offered after the fact — while noting that BEFORE the fact, none of the explainers had a clue what was about to happen. Interspersed are comments from THE first book ever written on stock markets, "Confusion of Confusions", by Josseph Penso de la Vega (no product link; apparently Amazon doesn't want to use its reviews to sell books other than the one being reviewed anymore). Brooks demonstrates how little has changed over the centuries.

And so it goes through the rest of the essays. Facts and insight, presented with wit, charm, and grace. Highly recommended.
34 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Anecdotes on Business 19 juillet 2014
Par H. Roulo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I had heard, as I think everyone else has, that Business Adventures was a favorite book of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I read the ebook, and I understand a print version will be forthcoming in September.

This book makes me feel as though I'm sitting at the knee of my grandfather, listening to wise recollections.
A writer of articles in the 1950's and 1960, many for the New Yorker, the author intelligently and thoughtfully steps through 12 events, one per chapter.

At first I thought perhaps I was particularly dense and wasn't getting the message. What held these stories together? Eventually, I realized that the author is not driving home a point, selling anything, or giving advice. His observations leave room for the reader to consider events, their connections, their parallels to today, the importance of character, and the question of morality in business. It was refreshing not to be told what to think.

I enjoyed the stories of Ford's Edsel, Piggly Wiggly, Xerox, Goodrich vs Latex.

The chapter on the federal income tax is particularly relevant, given the wide-spread debate about taxes and modern conversations about the 1%.

John Brooks' perspective is firmly rooted in the past, when the book was written, and provides readers opportunity for a sense of omniscience since we can consider ramifications the author himself could not be aware of, at that time.

Times may change. People do not.
29 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Before "Greed was Good" 14 juillet 2014
Par BookVodney - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is a glimpse into the Golden 60's when American Industry provided a good prospect and promise for the middle class. The 1960's saw US leadership in technology, winning with the Race to the Moon, and a revolution in Women & Civil rights. Mr. Brooks spot lighted a series of case studies featuring US companies and stock market events from that Era. It's interesting that a copy machine made by Xerox cost the price of a stately home, and required a skilled technician to operate it. Also a fire extinguisher was provided as a standby if it caught on fire. Yet Xerox was a top line growth company that made its investors big returns.

I like this book for the following reasons: it's speaks to America Innovation and investors who had the courage to hang in there and bear the up and downs. 2) It demonstrates the fact that leadership requires set- backs & those companies that accepted the risk will learn and succeed. 3) it gives me hope that stock market investors will learn from the in depth analysis Mr. Brooks brought forward that investing in truly motivated companies with the guts to innovate are worth putting forth your money & time to invest in. Finally it's a lesson into studying & seeking companies focused on producing leading edge products regardless of the quarterly bottom line, and weekly up & downs of global events.

The early printings of this book are impossible to find. Therefore, Mr. Buffet & Gates have come forth to reveal this lost treasure providing lessons from our past, and hopefully will instill a new (but old) way of thinking on how to seek and invest in top businesses. Reading this book has change my perspective on investing (maybe long term investing in the right companies is the way to go), and I truly feel it's worth the read if you plan to invest in the stock market. Also, it reads very well and is simply enjoyable.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Millions will rush to purchase a copy but how many will actually read it and then apply what they learn? 13 août 2014
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Here is a new edition of a book first published in 1969 and, until recently, out-of-print. It consists of 12 "stories" written by John Brooks (1920-1993) that first appeared in The New Yorker. It is one of Warren Buffett's two favorite books, the other being Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor. About 20 years ago, Buffett gave his copy of it to Bill Gates who mentioned that in a Wall Street Journal (July 11, 2014). Now another lemming stampede is underway.

Contrary to what many people apparently believe, however, the significance of this book has much less to do with either Buffett or Gates than it does with the value of Brooks' insights and how well he presents them. In my opinion, why Buffett and Gates think so highly of this book is of far greater importance than the fact they do so. I had read each of the essays as they appeared in the magazine and then re-read them recently after obtaining a copy of the new paperbound edition.

As I did so, I was again reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's colleagues at Princeton playfully chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Each year, the answers are different."

Most of the historical material in Business Adventures is dated. How could it not be after 45 years? However, like Einstein's questions, the issues that Brooks discusses remain - if anything - more relevant today than they were in 1969. It is worth noting that the average length of the essays is about 37 pages. Brooks probes with surgical skill as he focuses on major crises in "the world of Wall Street" and what valuable lessons can be learned from each situation. Apparently Buffett and Gates took those lessons to heart.

These are among the subjects of greatest interest to me:

o Why the causes of the financial crisis in 1962 remain "unfathomable" but what the significance of that crisis seems to be, nonetheless

o The extent to which the failure of the Edsel suggests "a certain grandeur that success never knows"

o What an "ideal tax code" as conceived in 1969 shares in common with the 1913 income tax

o Why the decision handed down on August, 1968, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was "a famous victory for the S.E.C." and resulted in "an interesting experiment"

o The struggles at Xerox to cope with the challenges of "good citizenship" in the late-1960s during it rapid and substantial corporate growth

o One of the "most trying -- and in some ways most serious -- crises in the Stock Market's long history" and how it was resolved

o Lessons to be learned about ineffective corporate communications with the Justice Department, notably the initiatives of G.E. and its then chairman, Ralph Cordiner

o Business lessons to be learned from the stock fluctuations of Piggly Wiggly Stores, Inc. and from its founder/CEO, Clarence Saunders

0 David Eli Lilienthal and his relevance to the New Deal during the Roosevelt administrations and his subsequent impact on Wall Street

o What Brooks learned about corporate leadership and management while attending annual meetings of various corporations

Note: Berkshire Hathaway's annual meetings offer compelling evidence of what Buffett learned from the tenth chapter, "Stockholder Season: Annual Meetings and Corporate Power" (Pages 315-337).

o Donald W. Wohlgemuth's historical -- and symbolic - significance after "almost six months in the toils of the law"

o The special significance of Charles Coombs and Alfred Hayes, especially with regard to "saving" the pound from devaluation

John Brooks was a superb journalist, one who possessed several of the skills of a world's class anthropologist, skills that are evident in these and other articles for The New Yorker as well as in his books, notably The Go-Go Years: The Drama and Crashing Finale of Wall Street's Bullish 60s (1999) and Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920-1938 (also 1999). He was also a master raconteur, a teller of tales about the major characters on Wall Street, the motives that drove them, the challenges they faced, the conflicts they created or endured, and finally, their significance within a realm that includes but extends far beyond lower Manhattan.

With regard to Business Adventures, it is possible to determine the number of copies that are sold of the new paperbound and digital versions but not how many of those who purchase one or both will read all, most, or only some (if any) of the material. Meanwhile, FYI, Amazon offers three used copies of the hardbound edition for $1,400, $2,450, and $2,500. Buffett once observed, "Price is what you charge. Value is what others think it's worth." Whatever the cost of the container, the value of this material is incalculable.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Another Book Review from the Aleph Blog 3 septembre 2014
Par David Merkel - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Do you like economic history? I do. I often think that we spend too much time on the numbers in business, and not enough time on the qualitative reasoning that goes into making good business decisions.

This particular book gained some notoriety of late when both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett said they were fans of the book. Could a book get a more powerful set of recommenders? Unlikely, and as a result, the book was pulled back into print. [Those reading this review at Amazon, there are links at Aleph Blog to flesh this point, and other points out.]

The stories are taken from articles written in The New Yorker from the 1960s by John Brooks, who wrote what was one of the best summaries of the markets in the '60s, "The Go-Go Years."

If you don't like economic history, this will not be the book for you, because the old stories will not resonate, and say to you, "We never learn."

Consider the wealth of situations covered in the book:

1) There was a surprising fall in the market in 1962. We have experienced much the same with "flash crashes" recently. They had a hard time figuring it out as well.

2) There was much work put into testing the Edsel, but it was a flop. Does that never happen today? What of New Coke? Various Microsoft products?

3) Even in the '50s and '60s there were people looking to convert wage income into less-taxed capital gains income. The tax code was filled with loopholes. After a brief tax code cleanup in the mid-'80s, we are back to the same problem today. Is it any surprise corporations do not manage their businesses for pre-tax economic outcomes?

4) Insider trading scandals are nothing new; we just dress them up in new clothes each decade. Watch the fun as an oil company delays the release of what a gusher they have drilled, while employees/friends take positions. And, to no surprise, there are different legal results as different parties knew differing amounts on how certain the information was.

5) New technology? Something so big that the name of the company becomes the generic name for the product? Where they set up a center for research in areas not directly related to their main business? Google! Okay, Xerox... (At least Google is trying to profit from their innovations.) How does a company manage to avoid becoming trapped in one area of technology? Well, it didn't work for Xerox, but maybe modern companies can avoid the same problem.

6) Can financial companies rescue a fellow company to protect the good reputation of the industry? In this case they did, but did Wall Street retain the knowledge for the future? LTCM was saved, though Bear Stearns didn't do its part. Wonder if that eventually cost them? How many companies were rescued by fellow companies during the recent financial crisis? A bunch, and some that should not have been rescued. And some like Lehman Brothers, that were too big to be privately rescued...

7) Price fixing? Collusion? Management teams that neglect oversight of employees until they are caught doing something wrong, and then cut the employees free [fire them] while management survives with nary a bruise? This never happens today, right? If nothing else, companies should have seen that bigness causes its own set of problems -- how do you create an ethical culture across a large organization?

8 ) Or consider the story of Piggly-Wiggly, where the founder squeezed the shorts trying to manipulate his company's stock, only to take on so much debt in the rescue that eventually he had to declare bankruptcy. Though the occasions are different, think of many companies that took on too much debt to go private over the last 30 years.

9) What does a man do after a long time in public service? Many go into business, and for a timely example, think of Eric Cantor joining Moelis. Does it have to corrupt the former politician or bureaucrat? No, but it will change you at minimum.

10) There were many angling for corporate governance reform in the '60s. This is still a live issue today with "say on pay," voting rules on directors, shareholder proposals, splitting the role of CEO and Chairman, etc. Corporate power is undiminished. Do shareholders own the company, or does management? Who do the directors care about more?

11) A clever knowledge worker knows a great deal about how a given product is made. Can he take work at a competing firm? There are many today who fight back against employment agreements, alleging "restraint of trade." This is not a new problem.

12) How do central banks preserve the value of the currency? Do they work together or separately? They work together if the cost isn't high, and separately when the cost is high? It seems not that much changes over time, aside from the fact that our currency doesn't have gold backing, or any other kind of anchor for value. Okay, I guess some things *do* change.

All that said, in short, every chapter of the twelve in the book has relevance to the modern era. The real question to the reader is whether you want to think about how these stories relate to the present day. I think the effort is worthwhile, and the engaged reader will benefit from the effort.

Quibbles

None.

Summary

This book is good for those who like economic history, and want to learn from the lessons of the past. If you require immediate and obvious relevance, look elsewhere.
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