Den of Thieves | James B. Stewart

Summary of: Den of Thieves
By: James B. Stewart

Introduction

Experience the high-stakes world of Wall Street in the 1980s, an era marked by staggering financial crimes, impenetrable webs of corruption, and unbridled greed. In ‘Den of Thieves,’ James B. Stewart pulls back the curtain on the shocking scandals that ensnared powerful figures such as Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, and Dennis Levine. Delve into their inner workings, the rise and fall of junk bonds, and the destructive merger mania that changed the financial landscape forever. This eye-opening summary illuminates the darkest corners of Wall Street’s most notorious era and portrays the human drama behind the financial crimes and their inevitable consequences.

Wall Street’s Decade of Greed

The 1980s was a period of greed, insider trading, and market manipulation that wreaked havoc on Wall Street. The offenders involved in the financial crimes that took place during this era were prolific, and the crimes spread over the United States’ markets and financial institutions. These individuals included people like Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine, who despite earning millions of dollars in salary and bonuses, still found the need to engage in stealing to increase their already vast fortunes. The financial crimes in which these men were involved were of unprecedented size and scope, with the offences involving corporate takeovers, insider trading, and market manipulation, among others. During the period, Milken’s Junk-Bond scheme, through which companies and financiers conducted a series of hostile takeovers and bids, was also on the rise. The deal-making was often characterized by irrational spikes in the stock prices of target companies, which were later dismantled. The practices were fraudulent and mocked the arm-length transactions highly valued in open markets. The crimes perpetrated during Wall Street’s decade of greed left a sour taste in the mouths of market enthusiasts and are still the subject of debates and scholarly research today.

The Ultimate Inside Job

Steven Levine started his career at Citicorp in the 1970s but never impressed his bosses. After joining Smith Barney in Paris, he set up an anonymous Swiss bank account for insider trading and recruited peers at other investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, to join in. Despite lacking basic financial skills, Levine had a knack for spotting insecure and greedy Wall Street peers who were drawn into his insider scheme. He amasses millions in a Swiss bank account and even strikes up a telephone relationship with Ivan Boesky, calling to offer insider information to the well-known arbitrageur. Levine’s trading drew regulatory attention, and he was sentenced to two years in prison and forced to pay $362,000, in addition to the $11.6 million he turned over to the SEC.

The Unholy Trifecta of Wall Street

This summary delves into the complex interconnectedness of three notorious Wall Street players – the junk-bond king, Michael Milken, the arbitrageur, Ivan Boesky, and the investment banker, Martin Siegel in the 1980s. The book reveals how these players manipulated the market, committed insider trading, and earned millions of illegal profits while remaining in cahoots with each other until their eventual downfall. The summary explores Milken’s control over the junk-bond market and his use of Boesky and Siegel to earn profits. It also sheds light on Boesky’s greed and arrogance, which led him to seek an edge by blatantly asking Siegel for insider information, resulting in millions of illegal gains, and Siegel’s ultimate cooperation with prosecutors. Overall, the summary provides an insightful look into the unsavory world of Wall Street during the 80s.

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