A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation

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Wiley, Apr 6, 2007 - Business & Economics - 276 pages
20 Reviews

It's Wall Street's most painful paradox. Investors are more sophisticated than ever, are enabled by unprecedented technology, and protected by more government oversight and regulation than at any other time in history. Yet Wall Street is becoming a riskier and riskier place. Crashes and catastrophic losses seem commonplace. Hedge funds wreck on the financial shoals with a disturbingly familiar pattern. Worse, today's financial crises do not arise from economic instability or acts of nature, but from the very design of the financial markets themselves.

In A Demon of Our Own Design, Richard Bookstaber paints a vivid picture of a financial world that is ever edging toward disaster. As a hedge fund 'rocket scientist,' Bookstaber provides an insider's perspective to the tumultuous management decisions made by some of the world's most powerful financial figures from Warren Buffett to Sandy Weill to John Meriwether,as well as recounting his own contribution to market calamities. He designed some of the complex options and derivatives that, combined with the globalization of the world's markets and the ever-increasing speed of transactions, allow markets to slide out of control. And he explains why the best efforts of institutions on the front lines to create safeguards, manage risk, and regulate the markets may end up contributing to instability. Bookstaber argues that many of the financial innovations and regulations that are supposed to level the playing field instead make the markets more dangerous for all the players, big and small.

Drawing on his intimate knowledge of such infamous disasters as the 1987 Crash and the demise of Long-Term Capital Management, Bookstaber identifies the key areas that make markets vulnerable: liquidity that begets greater leverage; innovation that creates greater complexity; and a structure that demands a nonhuman level of rationality. The twofold solution he suggests—reducing complexity and breaking the tight coupling of transactions—goes against the prevailing winds of Wall Street, but will lead to a more robust and survivable market.

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Review: A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation

User Review  - Christopher Russell - Goodreads

Hard to understand. I think I got to page 100, then stopped. I got the jist however: banking system and culture are wholly removed from the effects of their actions. They are not attempting to ... Read full review

Review: A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation

User Review  - Randy Carlson - Goodreads

Great book but you will have a hell of a time with this one if you have not taken a class in Advanced Finance with the Mathematics to go with it. Not that you will see a lot of equations, but the subtext is extremely technical. Inside Baseball to the max.... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Richard Bookstaber runs an equity hedge fund in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was the director of risk management at Ziff Brothers Investments and at Moore Capital Management, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. He served as the managing director in charge of firm-wide risk management at Salomon Brothers and was a member of Salomon's powerful Risk Management Committee. Mr. Bookstaber also spent ten years at Morgan Stanley in quantitative research and as a proprietary trader, concluding his tenure there as Morgan Stanley's first market risk manager. He is the author of three books and scores of articles on finance topics ranging from options theory to risk management. Bookstaber received a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.

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