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Catching the Wolf of Wall Street Broché – 2009
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For those who don't quite grasp what Jordan did, here is a little primer:
Stratton would seek to a company public; lets call it ABC. Stratton would look to raise 6 million dollars by selling 1 million shares at 6. (a lot of these deals were units with warrants attatched, but for the sake of simplicity I'm going to just call them shares. The concept is the same). Three to six months before going public, Stratton would structure a bridge loan to ABC for say $500,000. ABC might need this money to pay legal and accounting expenses. An investor (generally a friend of Jordan's) would put up the money in return for one million shares at $.50.
Six months later, ABC goes public. Stratton's brokers are selling it like crazy, promising investors that the stock is the next Microsoft and ready to go "TO DA MOON!" Lets say instead of selling clients one million shares, they sell them 2 million. Where did the extra million shares come from? Simple. Remember the bridge loan at fifty cents? Well Jordan would pay him two dollars for his stock. The investor makes a quick $1.50/share, or $1.5 million on a $500,000 investment. Not bad. Frequently, the investor would kick back some of these proceeds to Jordan.
Okay, lets go back to the first day of trading. Stratton has virtual total control over the float of the stock by not allowing a broker to sell unless he had a corresponding buy order. Thus, no stock would ever hit the rest of Wall Street. Because Stratton controls the market, they might open the stock up at say, 15. Jordan then goes out to his sales force with a great deal: He will let them but one million shares at 11, and sell them to their clients at 15. The brokers will make $4/share, or over 25%! Why would Jordan offer them stock at 11? Because he took it from the bridge loan investor at 2. So Stratton makes $9/share on one million shares in it's trading acct, plus all the investment banking fees and any kickbacks as well. Remember, they only raised six million (minus fees) for the company. So, Jordan makes over 150% on the money he raised! Sooner or later, the stock collapses, and the investors are left holding stock worth pennies. Needless to say, this is all totally illegal.
By the way, Jordan (early in the book) states that his clients "...could have sold their shares anytime they wanted to..." Not quite. If I had a dime for every Stratton customer who called my firm complaining about their inability to sell, I'd be living in Old Brookville.
In this book, Belfort tells us about the events after getting caught by the FBI, how he ratted his friends, and his relationship with women. He sounds like he was very sorry about being caught, but not at all about the people he screwed. In fact, the first thing he does after his money runs dry is to start selling mortgage based loans to poor people (knowing well that they will lose their houses).
Belfort suffers from a pathological inability to put himself in other people's shoes, he is unable to relate to feelings and to have anything more than a childish relationship with anyone. This goes for his victims and his women. My bet is that he is a psychopath in some degree. He refers to his second wife as a Duchess, and basically has a marriage based on sex. Everybody tells him she is a gold-digging whore, but he is the only one who can't see it (she is). Then he goes on to live with a dysfunctional super-model who can't even have a conversation with him. Women are trophies for his vanity.
The only truth we read in the whole book is when the judge says that he is not super-talented as he thinks, that many people as talented as him didn't get as much money just because they refrained from crossing the criminal line. That's the bottom line: Belfort is not super smart, he is a super liar, one who lies even to himself.