Rarely a day passes without fresh evidence that the denizens of Wall Street and other financial capitals have feet of clay. For every whizz kid with his swanky apartment and home in the Hamptons or the Caribbean, there are tales of big losses, hubris and disappointed investors. As I write, JP Morgan is embroiled in an embarrassing loss of at least $2 billion.
To say that the skills of financiers and investment managers are regarded with skepticism these days is a heroic understatement. And of course, as you might expect in the aftermath of the 2008 financial storm, there has been a slew of books describing, with varying degrees of anger, relish, condescension or head-shaking sorrow, what has gone wrong.
Sometimes, however, a big book comes out which attacks the subject of the financial markets from a different perspective from the usual quarters. And one such book – all 616 pages of it – is Word$ On The Street: Language And The American Dream On Wall Street. Written by Leo Haviland, who has worked for the likes of Goldman Sachs and other institutions, this tome unpicks the very language that is used by financial practitioners, commentators, the media and others to describe what happens in markets.