Bull! : A History of the Boom, 1982-1999: What drove the Breakneck Market--and What Every Investor Needs to Know About Financial Cycles

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9780060564131: Bull! : A History of the Boom, 1982-1999: What drove the Breakneck Market--and What Every Investor Needs to Know About Financial Cycles
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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.

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About the Author:

Maggie Mahar is the author of Bull! A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982–2004, a book Paul Krugman of the New York Times said "makes a devastating case against the contention that the market is almost perfectly efficient." In his 2003 annual report, Warren Buffett recommended Bull! to Berkshire Hathaway's investors. Before becoming a financial journalist in 1982, when she began to write for Money magazine, Institutional Investor, the New York Times, Bloomberg, and Barron's, Mahar was an English professor at Yale University. She lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Financial journalist Mahar offers a thorough and accessible history of the explosive 1982-1999 bull market that is illuminating as well as sobering from the current bear market perspective. She notes that most people swept up in the euphoria of this latest market surge failed to recall the lessons of 1929-1934 and 1970-1974, when earlier bubbles collapsed and investors lost heavily. Citing studies by esteemed economists John Kenneth Galbraith and Charles Kindleberger, Mahar reminds readers that this self-blinding euphoria is a regular feature of every bull market. In vivid detail, she documents the trends and outsized personalities that fueled this particular bull market, including the surge of leveraged buyouts of 1984-1987, the mania for junk bonds, falling short-term interest rates, the rush of individual investors into 401(k) retirement plans, the power (and appetites) of mutual funds and the media frenzy that lent an unlikely allure to quarterly corporate earnings reports. As the runup in stock prices gained momentum in the late 1990s while evidence of corporate accounting shenanigans mounted, Mahar's account assumes the compelling power of an oncoming train wreck. Survivors of the recent market meltdown can profit from Mahar's assertion: "Ultimately, secular bear markets teach investors to learn to manage risk in a different way, focusing not on the odds, but on the size of risk." Individual investors will also gather that they need to be more skeptical of some sources of "information" and to be much better informed not to be burned again. Charts.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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