Dear Mr.Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street by Janet Tavakoli
|Dear Mr.Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street by Janet Tavakoli|
|Category: Business and Finance|
|Reviewer: Chris Bradshaw|
|Summary: Why has Wall Street got the American economy in such a state and why we should listen to Warren Buffett instead.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: January 2009|
|Publisher: John Wiley|
My mind was drawn while reading this book towards the ongoing parliamentary expenses scandal. Of course claiming £80 for a trouser press isn't in the same league as some of the shenanigans which went on in the banking and financial sector but they do have at least one thing in common, one thing that is stressed by Warren Buffett to the managers of his successful businesses. It can be paraphrased as, when making a decision don't just consider whether it's legal or not, think about how it would look plastered on the front page of your local paper. That advice would have served MPs as well as some of the more dubious characters in the financial sector very well.
This basic idea of decency and honesty is the focal point of the book. Tavakoli mixes details and anecdotes about a number of meetings and a series of correspondences with the so called Sage of Omaha while at the same time trying to shed some light on the worst excesses and outrages of the recent financial meltdown. They make for a very interesting counterpoint.
Tavakoli, the head of a Chicago based financial consulting firm, was shouting fire while much of Wall Street was still chucking expensive fireworks on the financial bonfire. She writes with an insider's knowledge about hedge funds, derivatives, rating agencies, leveraged buy outs and the like explaining clearly just how Wall Street ended up in the mess that it did. She is savage in her criticism of the excesses of the big banks and hedge funds and the ineptitude and complicity (implied if not overt) of government and regulators in not doing enough to curb them.
So where does Warren Buffett fit in to all this? His name does appear in the title after all. Tavakoli uses Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company as an example of how a business should be run in contrast to the big shot Maserati drivers of Wall Street. Many of the things that Buffett has to say just sound like common sense, do not lend money to people who cannot pay you back, you cannot multiply your investments when you multiply by zero but it's astonishing to hear just how out of step these sentiments often were. Buffett makes a fine basis against which the conmen, crooks and shysters who lost billions gambling on the markets can be judged.
Though much of the subject matter in this book is centred on Wall Street it's not hard to imagine similar circumstances in the City of London. Anyone who has followed the fortunes of some of Britain's banking sector will find Tavakoli's quote that too big to fail means taxpayers will pay for a bailout depressingly familiar.
If you're hoping for a detailed analysis of Warren Buffett and his business genius then this probably isn't the book for you. If you want a primer into just how out of control the markets were and the impact they have had on the global economy then this is an ideal starting point.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Long and the Short of it: A Guide to Finance and Investment for Normally Intelligent People Who Aren't in the Industry by John Kay.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dear Mr.Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street by Janet Tavakoli at Amazon.co.uk
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.