Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: The rise and fall of Bear Stearns

This is the biography of Alan Greenberg and also of the investment firm he did run, Bear Stearns. The credit crisis of 2008 led to collapse of Bear Sterns and it was taken over by JPMorgan. Bear Sterns was already eight decades old company by then and it had survived many crisis Wall Street had seen including the dot com bust. But the sequence of events and the situations they got into during the crisis of 2008 made the executives of Bear Stearns run out of options and watch helplessly fallout of their company and market capital of their firm melting away into thin air.

The first few chapters are about the childhood days of Alan Greenberg growing up as a sportsman, and learning business fundamentals from his father. A small town boy ends up in Wall Street with a grand plan and rises to the position of CEO and Chairman of Bear Stearns. Later chapters are about the nuances of investment world. He also takes digs at the people he worked with at Bear Sterns. And the final portion of the book is about the downfall of Bear Stearns. Even though he was retired from the post of CEO during the time of crisis, he makes every attempt to keep the firm afloat but they do not yield expected results.

This is a straight through and honest assessment of the company, industry and the people he worked with. And the book has lots of common sense lessons about risk management and human behavior.