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Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I just can't look away...

    It's the auto wreck on the side of our economic highway-horrifying but you can't turn away from it. First of all, the author knows whereof he speaks. He quite literally wrote the book (several volumes, in fact) on derivatives. In Traders, Guns & Money, he takes us inside the world-with a twist. The names are hilarious and took me by surprise. Das says outright that he changed the names to protect the infamous, but I wasn't ready for the opening scene which pits opposing counsel from the firm Lucre and Lucre across the table from those of Killem and Billem.
    I lost it.
    The fascinating horror comes as you read, with sinking stomach, how badly hurt those dealing with these traders who, while assuring their clients that their best interests are served by the deal, are in reality playing a zero-sum game, and playing it against their own clients.
    More useful to the uninitiated are the description of credit derivative products. Das does a very good job diagramming just how structured finance is put together, but again, the zero-sum sense of impending doom arises as you come to realize that these products are impenetrable. Nobody could really grasp what it is they're shelling out good money (not THEIRS of course) to buy.

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