The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals by Frank Partnoy | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals

The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals

by Frank Partnoy

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An all-too prescient parable of how unregulated markets, greed, and unchecked ambition can wreak havoc on our economic system


An all-too prescient parable of how unregulated markets, greed, and unchecked ambition can wreak havoc on our economic system

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

George A. Needham, Founder and Chairman of Needham & Company
"The tale of Ivar Krueger, vividly brought to life by Frank Partnoy, is a reminder that Wall Street has not changed much since the late 1920's. The players change, but the animal spirits remain the same. Anyone interested in today's financial crisis will be captivated by this story."

Time, January 13, 2009
“Frank Partnoy has an exceptionally well-timed book on Ivar Kreuger coming out.”

Robert A. G. Monks, author of Corpocracy and The New Global Investors
The Match King is a skillfully told tale of the romance and the corruption involved in attempting to be on top of the world. How did Krueger enlisted the loyalty of the people essential to him? Yes, some he bought, but most -- he beguiled.”

Ron Chernow, The New Yorker, 3/23
“An engrossing study of Ivar Kreuger.”

Kirkus, 4/1
“A pertinent, timely tale of financial fraud and how it was maintained for so long.”

Booklist, review 4/15
“A timely and excellent book.”

Wall Street Journal
“Frank Partnoy tells the story of Kreuger's rise and calamitous fall in an eminently readable and scholarly biography…the tale of the Match King holds lessons for our own day and for future generations.”

“An absorbing tale and a poignant reminder that every boom has its scoundrels…Partnoy gives us a rich account of the Roaring Twenties' most astounding confidence man”

The Economist
“[The Match King] provides a fascinating insight into how high society falls prey to such colourful characters. Kreuger’s story is uncannily relevant today.”

New Jersey Star Ledger
“Ivar Kreuger, the super-secretive Swede who made Ponzi look like a piker, doesn't readily come to mind when discussing over-the-top scamsters. But Frank Partnoy's spreadsheet-thorough book should help change that.”
The Match King is a fun, thought-provoking read that might have seemed like an archaic detour if it had been published five years ago, but now should be required reading for would-be regulators.”

Christian Science Monitor
“Oh, how we love to read about the downfall of the rich and famous! Especially the rich. Especially when they’re corrupt. Consider Swedish industrialist Ivar Kreuger, the Bernard Madoff of his time, whose story is explored in Frank Partnoy’s brisk new biography The Match King.”

NPR’s ‘Planet Money’
“[A] great story about aspiration and deceit and the mania that can come with investing.”

“In his biography The Match King, Partnoy shows how Kreuger transformed himself from a withdrawn Swedish boy to a superstar, international businessman and financier … Partnoy knows how to ratchet up the suspense.”
“Frank Partnoy’s The Match King—which should be required reading for every financial whiz or businessman who claims to be performing due diligence on a too-good-to-be-true investment opportunity—is not just a proof of that truism but a painfully captivating account of just how easily those suckers are found and fleeced by the Madoffs of the world.”

New York Times Book Review
[A] true-life business thriller…[Partnoy] has a historian’s assiduous dedication to telling the truth in all its uncomfortable complexity.”

Publishers Weekly

Partnoy (F.I.A.S.C.O.) delivers a thrilling account of the grandfather of all Ponzi and Madoff schemes-Ivar Kreuger (1880-1932), who made his fortune in the 1920s by raising money from American investors to lend to European governments in exchange for match monopolies. Kreuger was creating more than matches, it turned out; the "master of investor psychology" created "the forerunners of today's derivatives" and techniques that are still used by hedge funds and investment banks. Shortly after his suicide in 1932, his schemes finally unraveled. The "Kreuger crash" bankrupted millions and led to the securities laws of 1933 and 1934-a "political reaction to a single event and to one man." Partnoy achieves a nuanced portrait of the charismatic and corrupt financial genius whose advice was sought by Herbert Hoover and other heads of state. A fascinating depiction of a man and his era (Greta Garbo makes memorable cameos), this book is a snapshot of a time all too familiar now: a speculative real estate bubble, unbridled consumer spending, investors buying derivatives based on sketchy information and a Wall Street operating by its own rules. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
Ivar Kreuger, known to aficionados of fraud cases as "the Match King," flourished 80 years ago. As this latest biography shows, his complex schemes could have occurred just yesterday-or might again tomorrow. Partnoy (Law/Univ. of San Diego; Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets, 2003, etc.) traces the fabulous rise and spectacular fall of the financier. Once counted among the wealthiest men on earth, Kreuger charmed royalty, tycoons and reporters, as well as Greta Garbo and Herbert Hoover. Along with dubious secret enterprises, he ran some legitimate businesses, including mining, construction and the manufacture of much of the world's matchsticks, financing sovereign governments in exchange for match monopolies. With fancy, arcane footwork, Krueger embellished real deals with shady transactions involving many of his dozens of affiliated firms. Money flowed from Wall Street to Stockholm, the Netherlands to Poland with scant documentation. He booked false gains to pay consistent 25 percent dividends. He kept real liabilities off balance sheets. Politicians, investors, brokers and bankers-with the notable exception of J.P. Morgan-were pleased to join the fun, no questions asked. It all unraveled in 1932 when Kreuger committed suicide and his transgressions were exposed. Estimates of losses vary, notes Partnoy, but millions worldwide were bankrupted. The author assiduously parses the data and pays special attention to the way Kreuger's American accountant was hustled. He also emphasizes that, despite clear deceit and a touch of forgery, the Match King wasn't entirely bad. After all, he made real money with a few real businesses. A pertinent, timely tale offinancial fraud and how it was maintained for so long. Agent: Theresa Park/Park Literary Group

Product Details

Publication date:
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6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Frank Partnoy is the author of F.I.A.S.C.O.: Blood in the Water on Wall Street and Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Greed Corrupted the Financial Markets. A graduate of Yale Law School, he is the George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance at the University of San Diego.

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