On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir

Henry Kaufman, Author, Paul A. Volcker, Foreword by
Henry Kaufman, Author, Paul A. Volcker, Foreword by McGraw-Hill Companies $24.95 (388p) ISBN 978-0-07-136049-4
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Hardcover - 388 pages - 978-0-07-138050-8
Open Ebook - 388 pages - 978-0-07-137662-4
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Crisp, jargon-free and self-assured, this memoir traces a famous economist's rise from rural Germany to the top of Wall Street. Born in a remote farming village in the upper Hessen region in 1927, Kaufman emigrated to America at age 10, when his family left Nazi Germany after a raid on their house. In New York, his lack of English put him four years behind in school, although Kaufman's intelligence and hard work later help him earn a Ph.D. in economics, gain a job at the Federal Reserve and, in the 1980s, rise to become the vice chairman of Salomon, Inc. and eventually found his own firm. Kaufman recounts these events with passion and precision, carefully avoiding melodrama. Among his recollections are several amusing anecdotes, including one from his years as an industrial banker in 1950s New York City, when he discovered a bank client on a rendezvous in a nightclub with a young woman who was not his wife and promptly revoked his credit line. His insider's perspective on the birth of the modern bond market and the globalization of banking will appeal to market watchers. Particularly interesting are Kaufman's candid revelations of how his experiences have affected his fiscal opinions. For example, his middle-class grandparents' memories of how 1920s German hyperinflation disenfranchised them made him a strong supporter of anti-inflationary policies; he was acutely sensitized to the relation between economic and social stability after witnessing how skyrocketing unemployment provided tinder to Nazi hatred. The book concludes with a survey of contemporary financial problems and the lessons of the recent and distant past. Though Kaufman's prose is starchy, his blend of moving personal history and insightful financial analysis make this memoir a sure bet for finance mavens. (June)
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