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Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (2014)

por Michael Lewis

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2,154747,461 (4.05)21
In this book the author argues that post-crisis Wall Street continues to be controlled by large banks and explains how a small, diverse group of Wall Street men have banded together to reform the financial markets. A report on a high-tech predator stalking the equity markets, this book is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post-financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, they band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading, source of the most intractable problems, will have no advantage whatsoever. The characters are each completely different from what you think of when you think "Wall Street guy." Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world's stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits. The author shines a light into the darkest corners of the financial world, where anyone in contact with the market, even a retirement account, is part of the story. But in the end, this is the story of people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don't get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.… (mais)
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I've read a few books by Lewis at this point and find them to be consistently entertaining.

This book in particular has a bit of slow start—covering the laying of a fiber optic cable from Chicago to New Jersey—but picks up from there.

The book is essentially about front-running: financial arbitrage transactions that degrade rather than improve market function (as opposed to other kinds of arbitrage, which perform a useful function).

It is fascinating to read this book now, as the crypto space has been working hard to build mathematically-provable non-front-runnable exchange protocols—an aspirations that the protagonists of this book could only dream of.

Lewis paints a pretty damning picture of the Securities and Exchange Commission—an administration whose legislation exacerbated high-frequency trading exploits, and whose staff regularly were corrupted by the industry. I can't say recent SEC actions in crypto have improved this picture in any way. ( )
  willszal | May 5, 2024 |
I've read several Michael Lewis financial books and loved them but I was disappointed by this one. The explanations were confusing, he kept repeating things, providing a lot of detail that was of no consequence, etc. He also dropped in terms like "subversion" without explanations leaving the wrong impression for what they mean. ("Subversion" is just a source code control package and has nothing to do with subverting anything.) It made me wonder how much of the material was really over the author's head.

I appreciated some of his explanations that the banks, brokerages, and exchanges were largely unaware of what was going on. But his explanations were often puzzling themselves and I suppose that he just didn't have all the explanations or he lacked a full understanding himself.

It all added up to a book that was not a good read. It was too confusing, had too much irrelevant material, and was too long. (Yes, I read the whole thing.) Perhaps this is not entirely the author's fault. Where was his editor? His editor should have done a better job helping trim and focus the material and distill difficult financial discussion into understandable explanations and a coherent whole. ( )
  donwon | Jan 22, 2024 |
This novel does not have human interest/ character angle that some of Lewis's other books have had (specifically Money Ball and the Blind Side). It also struck me as a bit repetitive in parts. I liked learning about how HFT works and how some worked to combat it but it could have been covered as a magazine article or case study. ( )
  devilhoo | Jan 3, 2024 |
Great
  Dermot_Butler | Nov 8, 2023 |
Not Lewis' best, but better than most others writing CNF. ( )
  Parthurbook | Nov 6, 2023 |
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In this book the author argues that post-crisis Wall Street continues to be controlled by large banks and explains how a small, diverse group of Wall Street men have banded together to reform the financial markets. A report on a high-tech predator stalking the equity markets, this book is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post-financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, they band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading, source of the most intractable problems, will have no advantage whatsoever. The characters are each completely different from what you think of when you think "Wall Street guy." Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world's stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits. The author shines a light into the darkest corners of the financial world, where anyone in contact with the market, even a retirement account, is part of the story. But in the end, this is the story of people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don't get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.

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