More Money Than God
Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
By Sebastian Mallaby
(Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594202551, 496pp.)
Publication Date: June 10, 2010
Categories: Corporate & Business History - General
The first authoritative history of hedge funds-from their rebel beginnings to their role in defining the future of finance.
Based on author Sebastian Mallaby's unprecedented access to the industry, including three hundred hours of interviews, More Money Than God tells the inside story of hedge funds, from their origins in the 1960s and 1970s to their role in the financial crisis of 2007-2009.
Wealthy, powerful, and potentially dangerous, hedge fund moguls have become the It Boys of twenty-first century capitalism. Ken Griffin of Citadel started out trading convertible bonds from his dorm room at Harvard. Julian Robertson staffed his hedge fund with college athletes half his age, then he flew them to various retreats in the Rockies and raced them up the mountains. Paul Tudor Jones posed for a magazine photograph next to a killer shark and happily declared that a 1929-style crash would be "total rock-and-roll" for him. Michael Steinhardt was capable of reducing underlings to sobs. "All I want to do is kill myself," one said. "Can I watch?" Steinhardt responded.
Finance professors have long argued that beating the market is impossible, and yet drawing on insights from physics, economics, and psychology, these titans have cracked the market's mysteries and gone on to earn fortunes. Their innovation has transformed the world, spawning new markets in exotic financial instruments and rewriting the rules of capitalism.
More than just a history, More Money Than God is a window on tomorrow's financial system. Hedge funds have been left for dead after past financial panics: After the stock market rout of the early 1970s, after the bond market bloodbath of 1994, after the collapse of Long Term Capital Management in 1998, and yet again after the dot-com crash in 2000. Each time, hedge funds have proved to be survivors, and it would be wrong to bet against them now. Banks such as CitiGroup, brokers such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, home lenders such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, insurers such as AIG, and money market funds run by giants such as Fidelity-all have failed or been bailed out. But the hedge fund industry has survived the test of 2008 far better than its rivals. The future of finance lies in the history of hedge funds.
Sebastian Mallaby has been a Washington Post columnist since 1999. From 1986 to 1999, he was on the staff of The Economist, serving in Zimbabwe, London, and Japan, and as the magazine's Washington bureau chief. He spent 2003 as a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among others.
Sebastian Mallaby's book is an expert primer on hedge funds -- the "Ferraris of finance" -- and a detailed portrait of Wall Street's daredevils. Reviewer Susan Jane Gilman says More Money Than God is illuminating ... and infuriating. More at NPR.org
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"[T]he bright light shed by More Money Than God is particularly welcome. Mr. Mallaby... brings a keen sense of financial theory to his subject and a vivid narrative style."
-The Wall Street Journal
"[S]plendid ... the definitive history of the hedge fund history, a compelling narrative full of larger-than-life characters and dramatic tales of their financial triumphs and reversals... Mallaby weaves into his narrative just the right amount of economic theory and market history, and he has a wonderful knack for explaining complex trading strategies in simple and elegant prose."
-The Washington Post
"[A] splendid account of the ups and downs of an industry in which few of the twenty-something hedge-fund wannabes know their history. They, and meddling politicians, should read this book before they are condemned to repeat it."
-The Financial Times
"Mallaby's book is informative and entertaining..."
"More Money Than God is an expert primer on America's most obscenely lucrative investment tool... [Mallaby is] incisive, informative, and as good a financial writer as he is a storyteller."
-NPR's All Things Considered
"In MORE MONEY THAN GOD, his smart history of the hedge fund business, Mallaby does more than explain how finance's richest moguls made their loot. He argues that the obsessive, charismatic oddballs of the hedge fund world are Wall Street's future-and possibly its salvation."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Sebastian Mallaby's history of hedge funds is well written, smart, and balanced."
"Sebastian Mallaby's in-depth research and clear writing style is engaging... With great insight into the lucrative world of hedge funds, More Money Than God is one of the best, most engrossing of the current financial books."
-The Finance Professional's Post (A publication of the New York Society of Security Analysts)
"[A] superb book"
-David Brooks, The New York Times
"Mallaby... effectively combines an insider's knowledge with a colorful storytelling ability... A lively, provocative examination of a little-understood financial realm."
"A superbly researched history of hedge-fund heroes stretching back to the 1950s, it is a fascinating tale of the contrarian and cerebral misfits who created successful, flexible businesses in an otherwise conventional financial world."
"More Money than God shines a fascinating light on what is still the most obscure route to becoming a billionaire--the mysterious world of hedge funds. Sebastian Mallaby's rollicking tour of industry legends--famous and otherwise-- tells the improbable story of A.W. Jones, the vagabond journalist-sociologist and daring anti-Nazi activist who, after the war, would create the first "hedged" investment fund. From there, we get rip-roaring profiles of investing titans from the full-throated gambler Michael Steinhardt to the bold TmigrT George Soros and the courtly stockpicker Julian Robertson to the ill-fated intellects of LTCM and the hedge fund stars of the present day. Even as Mallaby entertains he advances an unorthodox yet compelling brief: rich as they are, hedge funds are probably the best vehicles society has for assuming risk. Any who disagree will have to contend with the evidence of the recent Wall Street collapse. If one shudders at the prospect of concentrating risk inside giant banks whose chieftains wager other people's money and cavalierly call for taxpayer bailouts then, as Mallaby points out, hedge funds are a necessary antidote."
-Roger Lowenstein, author of The End of Wall Street
"Sebastian Mallaby takes us into the secretive world of hedge funds and the result is a wonderful story and an education in finance. The book is full of colorful characters playing high stakes' games. Throughout, with his customary intelligence, Mallaby helps us understand this important transformation of the financial industry."
-Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post American World
"When Alfred Winslow Jones started the first hedge fund, he had no idea where it would lead. Sebastian Mallaby, who must be the keenest student of hedge funds anywhere, now does-and he shares it with you in this crackling good read."
-Dr. Alan S. Blinder, Professor of Economics, Princeton University, and Former Vice Chairman, Federal Reserve
"A fascinating history. Mallaby combines vivid description of key personalities and episodes with thoughtful discussion of the sources of advantage for different investment styles in different periods of financial history. I enthusiastically recommend this book to colleagues and students in academia and asset management."
-John Y. Campbell, Chairman of the Department of Economics, Harvard University, and Partner, Arrowstreet Capital