Picking up where Liarâ€™s Poker left off (literally, in the bond dealerâ€™s desks of Salomon Brothers) the story of Long-Term Capital Management is of a group of elite investors who believed they could beat the market and, like alchemists, create limitless wealth for themselves and their partners. Founded by John Meriweather, a notoriously confident bond dealer, along with two Nobel prize winners and a floor of Wall Streetâ€™s brightest and best, Long-Term Captial Management was from the beginning hailed as a new gold standard in investing. It was to be the hedge fund to end all other hedge funds: a discreet private investment club limited to those rich enough to pony up millions. It became the banksâ€™ own favourite fund and from its inception achieved a run of dizzyingly spectacular returns. New investors barged each other aside to get their investment money into LTCMâ€™s hands. But as competitors began to mimic Meriweatherâ€™s fund, he altered strategy to maintain the fundâ€™s performance, leveraging capital with credit on a scale not fully understood and never seen before. When the markets in Indonesia, South America and Russia crashed in 1998 LCTMâ€™s investments crashed with them and mountainous debts accumulated. The fund was in melt-down, and threatening to bring down into its trillion-dollar black hole a host of financial instiutions from New York to Switzerland. Itâ€™s a tale of vivid characters, overwheening ambition, and perilous drama told, in Roger Lowensteinâ€™s hands, with brilliant style and panache.
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