This is a timeless book on the Wall Street of the 1960s. Mr. Brooks has written about the people and events of the 1960s. However, the wisdom and insights continue to be relevant. Maybe, if regulators or credit rating agencies or the boards of investment banks had imbibed the wisdom of the book, the 2008 crisis would have taken a different shape.
Samples of the wisdom in the book:
Insiders vs minority shareholders -- "In each case, certain insiders contrive to use priviledged information and superior market technique to manipulate" and "...leading stock exchanges as private clubs that in the context of public market places...."
Mutual fund managers "All that can be required of a Trustee to invest is that he conduct himself faithfully and exercise a sound discretion. he is to observe how men of prudence, discretion, and intelligence manage their own affairs, not in regard to speculation, but in regard to permanent disposition of their funds, considering the probable income as well as the probable safety of the capital to be invested"
Nothing succeeds like success -- "There was no public disapproval on either (pool operators of 1920s or portfolio operators of 1960s) so long as people were making money on them." "Genius is a rising market"
Entreprenuers view of unlimited opportunity -- "In the United States, there's a young man or woman who will break every financial record, I ve set. That is the opportunity in this country"
Government's ability to avoid crisis -- "When a market panic is in progress, the SEC is as helpless as a meteorologist in a storm".
Healthy skepticism of managements "Tendency of companies to purchase others ..became prevalent....when many corporate treasuries were full...of spare money"
Ideal qualities of accountants "men of wisdom, learning and unassailable probity"
Bad accountant "hung up on the old notion of disclosure as panacea"
"New issues craze is the last stage of a dangerous boom"
Investment banks -- "Most of them had been conservatively financed with the personal resources of careful puritanical partners"
There is a lot of wisdom in the book. It is an engaging book to read. I strongly recommend it.