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Bull!: A History of the Boom, 1982-1999: What Drove the Breakneck Market -- and What Every Investor Needs to Know about Financial Cyclesby Maggie Mahar
Synopses & Reviews
In Bull!, Maggie Mahar tells the sweeping tale of the Great Bull Market of 1982-1999, a legendary run-up that pulled the entire nation into its gravitational field.
Mahar lays out the origins of the boom and takes the reader behind the scenes, on Wall Street, on Main Street, and in Washington, letting him see the story through the eyes of the fund managers, market gurus, analysts, politicians, business journalists, and 401(k) investors who, together, helped create the longest-running bull market in U.S. history. Some were touts; others were true believers. On the sidelines, a Greek Chorus of seasoned professionals tried, vainly, to describe the emperor's new clothes.
Filled with colorful portraits of many of the central figures of the boom years — Alan Greenspan, Henry Blodget, James Cramer, Abby Joseph Cohen — Bull! draws together a complex cast of characters, illuminating the web of relationships that kept the market aloft.
More than a financial history, Bull! is a lively, often witty social history of the stock market that became a part of popular culture. It is also the tale of individual investors, which chronicles the intimate stories of ordinary people — housewives and college professors, salesmen and waitresses — who got caught up in the excitement and then watched their life savings drain away.
How did it happen that the very real risks of investing in stocks were forgotten? Mahar explodes the myth of "stocks for the long run," explaining how the market's promoters crunched the numbers to create the illusion that if an investor stays in the casino just a little longer, he is guaranteed to come out a winner. Casting Warren Buffett in a new light, she explains how a value investor is, in the end, a long-term market timer who understands that success depends on how much you pay when you get into the market — and when you get out. By putting the bull market of 1982-1999 in a larger historical context, she shows how, over time, longtime bull markets beget longtime bear markets.
The future defies prediction, but the history of financial markets makes one thing clear: markets always revert to a mean. Taken as a single story, Bull! is both an illuminating history and a cautionary tale about investing. Analyzing the economic and psychological forces that drive financial cycles, Mahar shows how an extraordinary influx of cash and credit, combined with the obsessive attention of a new financial media, created a cult of equities. Challenging the notion that stocks always outperform all other investments, she reveals why many of Wall Street's most experienced investors believe that the 21st-century investor needs to throw out the old rule book and make a new beginning as he plans for his financial future.
No investor should keep his or her money in the stock market without first reading this book.
"Mahar teaches many valuable lessons in this excellent history and analysis." Booklist
"In vivid detail, [Mahar] documents the trends and outsized personalities that fueled this particular bull market, including...the mania for junk bonds...the rush of individual investors into 401(k) retirement plans...and the media frenzy that lent an unlikely allure to quarterly corporate earnings reports." Library Journal
Book News Annotation:
Financial journalist Mahar reminds readers of the inevitable cycles of stock markets, a lesson most are probably more willing to hear now that the "irrational exuberance" (to quote Alan Greenspan) of the 1990s is over. Writing in the style of popular history, she describes the origins of the booming bull market, focusing on the way investors, journalists, politicians, and others managed to ignore some of the most basic lessons of investing. The narrative frequently focuses on individuals in an effort to personalize the topic.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A cautionary tale for what lies ahead, Bull! is an unsentimental history of the bull market that drew more Americans into the risky world of stocks than ever before.
About the Author
Before becoming a financial journalist, Maggie Mahar was an English professor at Yale University, teaching 19th-and 20th-century poetry and prose. In 1982, she began covering financial markets, freelancing for Money magazine, Institutional Investor, and The New York Times, before joining Barron's as a senior writer in 1986. There, she wrote cover stories about Wall Street and Washington, specializing in profiles and investigative pieces. In 1998, she wrote a column about international markets and economics for Bloomberg.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Market's cycles; People's market — Beginnings (1961-89): Stage is set (1961-81); Curtain rises (1982-87); Black Monday (1987-89) — Cast assemblies (1990-95): Gurus; Individual investor; Behind the scenes, in Washington — Media, momentum, and mutual funds (1995-96): Media, CNBC lays down the rhythm; Information bomb; AOL, a case study; Mutual funds, momentum versus value; Mutual fund manager, career risk versus investment risk — New economy (1996-98): Abby Cohen goes to Washington, Alan Greenspan gives a speech; Miracle of productivity — Final run-up (1998-2000): "Fully deluded earnings"; Following the herd, DOW 10,000; Last bear is gored; Insiders sell, the water rises — Final accounting: Winners, losers, and scapegoats, (2000-03); Looking ahead, what financial cycles mean for the 21st-century investor — Appendix.
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