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Den of Thieves [Anglais] [Broché]

James B. Stewart
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Extrait

Chapter 1

Martin Siegel, the youngest member of the class just graduated from the Harvard Business School, reported for work at Kidder, Peabody & Co.'s Manhattan headquarters at 20 Exchange Place in August 1971. That morning, the 23-year-old Siegel wandered through the halls looking at the portraits of Henry Kidder, Francis Peabody, Albert R. Gordon, and others that hung above the Oriental rugs and slightly threadbare carpets. Siegel tried to absorb the images of this strange and rarefied world of old money and discreet power.

He didn't have much time for reflection. He and his new wife hadn't even unpacked before he was thrown into a day-and-night project to win some new underwriting business from the Federal National Mortgage Association. Siegel's partner on the project made little impression on him, except for his name: Theodore Roosevelt IV, or maybe V; Siegel could never remember which.

In 1971, with the Vietnam War still raging and spurring opposition to the Establishment, few top students were going to business school, let alone Wall Street. Siegel, one of the top graduates in his Harvard class, had had his pick of nearly every major investment bank and securities firm. He had applied to 22; all had shown interest.

Kidder, Peabody, with about $30 million in total capital, barely ranked in the country's top 20 investment firms. In the hierarchy of Wall Street, Kidder, Peabody was in the second-tier, or "major" bracket. It didn't rank in the elite "special" bracket with Salomon Brothers, First Boston, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, or Goldman, Sachs.

Though the winds of change were apparent in 1971, Wall Street was still split between the "Jewish" and the "WASP" firms. At an earlier time, when major corporations and banks had discriminated overtly against Jews, Wall Street had rewarded merit and enterprise. Firms like Goldman, Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Kuhn Loeb (made up historically of aristocratic Jews of German descent) had joined the ranks of the most prestigious WASP firms: Morgan Stanley -- an outgrowth of J. P. Morgan's financial empire -- First Boston, Dillon, Read, and Brown Brothers Harriman. Giant Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, something of an anomaly, had once been considered the "Catholic" firm. Kidder, Peabody remained firmly in the WASP camp. Siegel was the first Jew it hired in corporate finance.

Siegel was looking for variety and excitement. Only investment banking offered the prospect of an immediate market verdict on a new stock issue or the announcement of a big acquisition. He had narrowed his choices to three firms: Goldman, Sachs, Shearson Hayden Stone, and Kidder, Peabody. A Goldman recruiting partner phoned, and asked, if Goldman made him an offer, would he accept? Siegel didn't commit. Shearson Hayden Stone offered him the largest salary -- $24,000 a year.

Kidder, Peabody offered only $16,000. But Siegel saw unique opportunities there. The firm was full of old men, but had a roster of healthy blue-chip clients. Siegel envisioned a fast climb to the top.

Kidder, Peabody's aristocratic aura appealed to Siegel. One of America's oldest investment banks, it was founded in Boston as Kidder, Peabody & Co. in 1865, just before the end of the Civil War. Early on, Kidder raised capital for the railroad boom, primarily for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. Its clients also included two stalwarts of establishment respectability, United States Steel and American Telephone & Telegraph.

The modern Kidder, Peabody was dominated by Albert H. Gordon, the son of a wealthy Boston leather merchant, and graduate of Harvard College and Business School. In 1929, when the firm was devastated by the market crash, Gordon, a young bond salesman at Goldman, Sachs, stepped in with $100,000 of his own capital. Along with two partners, he acquired the firm in 1931.

The indefatigable Gordon, a physical-fitness fanatic with limitless energy and impeccable Brahmin bearing, moved the firm's headquarters to Wall Street from Boston and set about building a roster of clients. He had an advantage: Kidder, Peabody's reputation, in sharp contrast to many of its rivals, had remained remarkably unsullied in the aftermath of the crash.

The shock of the crash and the Depression had set off a reform movement in Congress culminating in Senate hearings conducted by special counsel Ferdinand Pecora beginning in 1932. Through Pecora's withering cross-examination of some of Wall Street's leading investment bankers, the American public learned about insider trading, stock-price manipulation, and profiteering through so-called investment trusts. Most of the abuses uncovered involved information bestowed on a favored few and withheld from the investing public. It was not only information that directly affected stock prices, such as the price of merger or takeover offers, but information that could more subtly be turned to a professional's advantage: the true spread between prices bid and prices asked, for example, or the identities of buyers of large blocks of stock and the motives behind their purchases.

In the wake of widespread public revulsion and populist fury, Congress passed historic legislation, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. A new federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, was created to enforce their provisions. Congress deemed the enforcement of its new securities laws to be so important that it enacted corresponding criminal statutes.

By separating banking from securities underwriting, the raising of capital, and distribution of stocks, bonds, and other securities, the securities acts set the stage for modern investment banking. Under Gordon's guidance, Kidder, Peabody concentrated on its underwriting function. The firm was a pioneer at opening branch offices in U.S. cities. The idea was, as Gordon liked to put it, to "sell your way to success."

Through most of its history, Kidder, Peabody was a tightly controlled partnership, with Gordon personally owning most of the firm and its profits. When the firm incorporated in the 1960s, the ownership changed little; Gordon simply became the firm's largest shareholder. He was parsimonious about bestowing ownership stakes on the firm's executives.

Kidder, Peabody prospered, if not spectacularly, under Gordon's conservative leadership. Determined to avoid another capital crisis, Gordon insisted that Kidder's executives plow their earnings back into the firm. This gave the firm the capital to survive the sudden drop in trading volume and profits that struck Wall Street in 1969. A Kidder vice president, Ralph DeNunzio, served as vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and helped arrange the merger of such old-line houses as Goodbody & Co. and du Pont. DeNunzio became chairman of the stock exchange in 1971, the same year Siegel graduated from Harvard Business School.

Martin Siegel's lineage was modest in contrast to that of the leaders of Kidder, Peabody. His father and an uncle owned three shoe stores in Boston, outlets that relied on American suppliers and catered to middle-to-working-class tastes. In the late sixties and early seventies, the stores were devastated by chains benefiting from national advertising and low-cost foreign suppliers. This was painful for Siegel, who had never seen anyone work so hard for so little as his father. As a kid growing up in Natick, a Boston suburb, he had almost never seen his father, who worked seven days a week, often spending the night in the city. Unlike his classmates' fathers, Siegel's father never played ball with him.

Siegel wasn't good at sports in school; he started first grade a year early, so his physical development lagged behind his classmates'. But starting as a freshman in high school, he excelled academically. He thought he wanted to be an astronaut. When Siegel was accepted in his junior year of high school for a work-study program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a science and engineering college, he became the first member of his family ever to attend college. He continued to do well academically even while working part-time, and entered a master's program in chemical engineering in 1968. He knew he'd never become rich toiling as an anonymous engineer in a corporate laboratory, so he applied to Harvard Business School and was accepted for the class entering in September 1969.

The turmoil sweeping American campuses during the late sixties had had remarkably little effect on Siegel, but at Harvard, he was caught up in the antiwar movement after the U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia in 1970 and the killings of students at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard. He participated in an antiwar sit-in in Harvard Yard and smoked marijuana cigarettes a few times. Still, he was annoyed when students managed to get that year's final exams canceled. He took his anyway, exercising an option to take the exams at home and submit them by mail.

For his senior thesis, Siegel tackled the mounting woes of his father's shoe store business. His solution: The stores should be transformed into specialty high-end boutiques, catering to wealthy, fashion-conscious women. This would avoid the growing competition in the rest of the market. Siegel's father agreed in principle, but then his brother, who did the buying for the stores, had a heart attack. His father didn't have the eye or instincts for high-fashion retailing, but Siegel's thesis earned "distinction-plus," Harvard's equivalent of A +.

On the Fourth of July 1970, Siegel married Janice Vahl, a music student from Rochester he'd met two years earlier. After Siegel accepted Kidder, Peabody's offer, he and Janice moved to New York, paying $212 a month for a modest one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's East 72nd Street.

Siegel took naturally to Wall Street and investment banking; his energy and drive were, as he had predicted, a breath of fresh air at Kidder, Peabody. DeNunzio, now Kidder, Peabody's chief operating officer, seemed early on to have taken favorable notice of his ...

Revue de presse

Absolutely Splendid...Tremendously Important...Indecently Readable. (Michael Thomas The New York Times)

A fast-paced adventure populated with people who could teach the characters in 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' a thing or two....It is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of the greed decade. (USA Today)

A revealing, disturbing tale of what can happen when greed runs rampant. (The Seattle Times)

Bursting with details...but told with magical clarity. (The Washington Post)

Stewart takes the reader through the maze of arcane Wall Street dealings as if he were writing a detective story. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 592 pages
  • Editeur : Simon & Schuster; Édition : Reprinted edition (1 septembre 1992)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 067179227X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671792275
  • Dimensions du produit: 21,4 x 14,2 x 3,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 69.178 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
  • Table des matières complète
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic inside story of Drexel's fall 11 novembre 2009
Format:Broché
Den of thieves describes the fall of Drexel in the 80s... with uncomparable strength: blasted egos, stress, blackmail, hundreds of M$ changing hands and, in the end, madness and prison..! Sounds familiar?

The best book I have ever read to understand what GREED really is: something that builds up slowly (with each million$ earned may-be?), until you find yourself syphoning 500 million $ (for you alone!) in the 700m$ bonus pool (Mike Milken - and these are 1987 $!).

All writen from the inside thanks to indepth digging into the trial "forced confessions" documents (supoena).

Even better than "Barbarians at the gate"!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  135 commentaires
63 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Unbelievable story told with skill. 15 août 2005
Par M. Strong - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Den of Thieves is a snapshot of human nature showing its seemy side. Stewart's book has a cast of characters you couldn't believe if it were a work of fiction. The most brilliant thing about "Den of Thieves" is the range of villians in the book; no two come to their law-breaking in the same manner or embrace it to the same degree. All of them find temptation (usually in the form of large heaps of easy money) too hard to resist.

Stewart avoids the temptation to paint all of his law-breakers with the same brush and just focus in on the nuts and bolts of the story's timeline. Instead, he allows you to meet each individual and see how they became embroiled in Wall Street's worst scandal since the 1930s. You see some of the simple unrepentant scumbags you'd expect (Levine most closely fits the bill), but mostly you see more complex people. Milken comes off as a truly broken person who was never completely connected to reality in the same way most of us are. Most of the players come off as ordinary people who, on their own, would have cruised through their careers in uneventful fashion if not presented with a tempting, lawless option by a more proactive criminal. Each of the perpetrators has their own level of comfort with their involvement in the insider trading scheme. Some are so uncomfortable that they get out of the scheme on their own, some cry over the money they can't bring themselves to stop taking, and of course some just think they are God's gift to the financial world.

You also get to see how law enforcement can work in a situation like this - sometimes it isn't very pretty. You come to realize that regulators and public prosecutors are imperfect people in imperfect situations, subject to their own set of desires, temptations and problems. Rudy Guliani's office prosecutes this case in the public eye while he positions himself to run for Mayor of NYC. The SEC unwittingly committs a huge insider trade of its own by allowing Ivan Boesky to unload his portfolio before the public announcement of his arrest and cooperation with authorities - so he can pay them his $100 million fine. (It seems temptation's not quite as far away as the authorities think).

Great story. Great character development. Great lessons. Highly recommended.
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A fascinating look at a complex and amazing scandal. 11 décembre 2001
Par David J. Chmiel - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The 1980's were known as the "Greed Decade" but, for many, the true excesses of that greed were never fully known or are now only a distant memory. James Stewart's book, "Den of Thieves" provides a comprehensive, fascinating and readable look at the insider trading scandals of the 1980's which brought words like
arbitrageur and LBO into the mainstream and people like Boesky and Milken household names.
Stewart begins by looking at the rise of some of Wall Street's highest fliers and, in many cases, providing exhaustive details of how the prevailing mantra of "greed is good" led them to orchestrate their own downfall. The audacity of many of these people is almost breathtaking, as is the wealth they accumulated. Stewart moves on to detail the process by which the government, in the form of the SEC and then-US Attorney Rudy Giuliani, brought this house of cards tumbling down. The various players in the game are portrayed with varying degrees of sympathy. However, the government authorities are not necessarily portrayed in the most flattering light and Stewart raises a number of questions about the overall handling of the investigations.
One word of caution - readers should not get too bogged down in the details of the story. The insider trading scandal involved
hundreds of players and transactions and schemes that were unbelievably complex. It is almost impossible to assimilate the entire story without getting somewhat confused. Nevertheless, the book is at its most effective when you take a step back and look at the grand scheme of the insider trades, the methods by which the perpetrators were brought to justice and the punishment they suffered from their crimes. In many ways, the book was published before the story reached a final conclusion and it would be worthwhile for a revised edition to be published, updating the status of the actors involved and the fallout of the revelations which the investigations brought.
Overall, this is a fascinating and well written book which raises fundamental questions about the way business was, and is, conducted and the way in which the justice system operates. I would highly recommend it as the definitive account of the insider trading scandals of the 1980s.
45 internautes sur 56 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not a very truthful portrayal of Milken 22 novembre 2009
Par Ronin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I just reread this book now that I have 14-more years of financial world experience. I enjoyed the first half which primarily deals with the financiers and their transactions, but the second half gets bogged down following the regulators who seem hell-bent on making big arrests of powerful people and advancing their fame and careers more than they care for the actual rule of law.

Most of the financiers introduced are truly repugnant characters, in particular guys like Dennis Levine, Marty Siegel, and Richard Freeman. Levine comes across as a conniving weasel who was basically inept at arbitrage and was able to hide this fact from the ignorant (not everyone) by cheating. Siegel was portrayed as a smug crook who turned crybaby as soon as he had to take his medicine. I can't decide if I disliked Levine or Siegel more. Freeman is the most interesting. He seems clearly guilty of insider trading, and pretty much escaped severe prosecution thanks to his benefactors (Robert Rubin) at Goldman Sachs, along with most of his personal wealth.

While Stewart does some exceptional research, it is also clear that he is engaging in a lot of speculation. The most obvious example is the numerous recounted conversations between all the characters, which is of questionable accuracy and few of which are verifiable beyond what the author was able to extract from a large group of people whose honesty is suspect. This includes all the attorneys, corporate chieftains, and in my opinion it especially includes all the government agents and prosecutors.

There is a lot of myth surrounding Milken, and unfortunately most of it is inaccurate. For one, Milken has always been very guarded of his privacy. Its easy to assume he is this way because he has something to hide, which is a poor argument many people love to put forward these days. For the most part Milken has shunned interviews and has made a best effort to not get involved with the press.

Most of his closest associates remained loyal to him, and he was essentially fingered by the lying criminal Boesky for an accounting irregularity involving $5.3 million in commissions, which is hardly a master-mind criminal gain considering the multitrillion dollar scope of Drexel's operation. By fingering Milken Boesky, who clearly was guilty of insider trading, got off with a mere 3-year sentence and was able to retain some $25+ million at the expense of the people he hurt. To support Boesky's claim, agents entered the home of a young female employee and basically got her to admit guilt through coercion (fear) for something she probably did not actually understand. Unlike Boesky, Milken was never convicted of insider trading, nor was there any clear evidence that he had engaged in it. In fact, Judge Kimba Wood conceded that 4 out of the 5 convictions had zero negative economic impact, however Stewart clearly allows his personal opinions to vilify Milken and paint him out as some genius criminal. So in hindsight, the sum negative economic impact of what Milken was charged for was actually less than $320,000. Considering his operation was trading roughly $1 billion per day, there is clearly an unfair bias present throughout the book.

Milken is arguably the most brilliant financier of our age, and having financed some 3,200 companies, it is unlikely anyone will outperform him anytime soon (if ever). He was largely responsible for economic improvement in the US in the 1980's. He has always been a strong proponent of sound capital structures and responsible use of leverage. Companies that were suffering from inept managers were easy targets for takeover and restructures using Drexel financing. Beyond just junk bonds, Milken employed a vast range of financing methods that provided essential capital, which allowed companies to grow, hire, and prosper. Once it became evident that the Milken tap was shutting down (1987-1991), the market responded negatively as would be expected.

There was much to be gained from Milken's downfall. Drexel's success certainly created a lot of ill will among the old and established Wall Street banks. Since Drexel via Milken was the dominant financier, the destruction of Drexel and the ruin of Milken sent their multibillion dollar financing into the hands of the very competitors who clearly stood to gain. Stewart conveniently ignores this whole side of the equation, which is not fair. It is a good example of the many biases that plague this book. Then we also have the likes of Rudy Giuliani behind the prosecution, and here Stewart tries to argue that Giuliani had such noble intentions and cared so much about the rule of law as opposed to his making a big name for himself and advancing his public career (all this just before he successfully ran for NYC Mayor).

If you are really interested in Milken, the book is worth reading so long as you understand that a lot of the information that is presented as hard and irrefutable fact is actually rather questionable, especially in hindsight. Reading the book for the second time, it felt dated and given that it was released fairly shortly after all the events concluded, is clearly guilty of hype and sensationalism.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Gripping and Accurate 28 janvier 2004
Par A. Maccoun - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Having re-read this book last week, it took me back to a time and a place I really didn't want to visit but found I should. Having been lured to Drexel, Burnham as a senior executive (from Morgan, Stanley in 1986) only weeks before the scandals hit -- and having witnessed the lava-roast at that firm -- it amazes me how Mr. Stewart was able to re-create events. Along with Predators' Ball, this book serves as an example of the power of quality investigative journalism. Filled with my own stories of similar dealings, I understand fully that his observations hit dead-center at the bullseye of the truth of that decade.
One comment in the Epilogue struck me as almost sad. Mr. Stewart says, in the wake of these scandals: "Wall Street has given every sign of being severely chastened." Too bad that wasn't the case.
Now myself a writer with somewhat less courage, perhaps, than Mr. Stewart (I've written about abuses/dangers on Wall Street, but write them as financial thrillers and opinion pieces -- it's safer, I think), I can only hope that with each scandal we get a little more honest, a little more chastened. Too bad I don't see that happening. Not yet, at least.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excelent reading for those interested in investment Banking 1 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book was really well writen and covers the breadth of what goes on in the investment banking world. I like the introductions on how the major investment houses started, and the roles of the Investment bankers, traders, lawyers, arbitragers etc. The central figure is Michael milken, who the book suggests is greedy and foul. The book is obviously on the side of US law enforcement, who some argue were biased and sought to destroy Milken for other motives. On the whole, I think it is a great book and it really helps one understand the whole finance game, and what happens (or used to happen) in wall street. Being from an Engineering and computing background, but with interest in M&A myself, I feel this book was really cool. I however reserve my judgements on Michael Milken till I read another book that is pro Milken. Taking away the crime aspects, I think Michael Milken is a genius.
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