Saturday, November 22, 2008


From 'Barbarians at the Gate' authors reflect by Jon Friedman:

"Barbarians at the Gate," the absorbing tale of the takeover of RJR Nabisco, was a New York Times No. 1 bestseller. It also spawned a well-received movie on HBO. But before they could envision creating a pop-culture icon, co-authors Bryan Burrough and John Helyar had a modest goal.

"Our whole goal was writing a book!" Burrough said.

I'm not the only person who thinks "Barbarians at the Gate" is the best business book ever. But penning a classic that defined the go-go 1980s on Wall Street was the furthest thing from their minds. "We were too stupid and naïve to know what we were doing," Burrough told me when I sat down with the authors at Dow Jones headquarters.

Helyar smiled when he recalled that he and Burrough ultimately created a "part-comic, part-dramatic operetta" that reflected "the human comedy" of Wall Street at the time.

Wall Street is still governed by fear and, especially, greed today in the wake of the collapse of the securities, real estate and automotive industries. "I'll give you my 'Wall Street 101' lecture," Helyar said. "Then, the M&A artists were over-the-top in some cases but were still tethered to real corporate America."

Fast-forward to today: "Wall Street became more of a blue smoke-and mirrors" environment, Helyar said.

Helyar saw the Internet bubble-burst nearly a decade ago as a result of analysts acting as "carnival barkers." He assesses the current crisis as the work of "quants" inventing ways to exploit the financial markets.

Burrough's view is that the chaos and ruin on Wall Street is emblematic of history repeating itself. "It's exactly the same every time," Burrough said animatedly. "Wall Street produces a product that makes money. Then it is overused -- and by the wrong people."
Read the rest here.


0 comments - Post a comment :

Post a Comment