Friday, January 20, 2012
Review of "Exile on Wall Street" by Mike Mayo
Securities analyst Mike Mayo recaps his career on Wall Street, where he covered the banking industry. Mayo outlines where the banks went wrong during the course of his career and what his independence and honesty cost him. As someone who was a financial reporter, I found myself nodding along with many of the points he raised in Exile on Wall Street. Executives and corporations will freeze you out if you don't "play along." Analysts who are on the team get rewarded with access and their banks are the ones who get deals. The financial stakes are much higher in that regard compared with the "media relations people" who will freeze out reporters who are too critical.
the book also included a concise history of Citigroup, a company that represents much of what's wrong with banking. It's too powerful, takes a careless approach to risk and it expects the Fed and government to step in when it runs into trouble. TARP is only one of several bailouts it has received over the years.
It is definitely a worthwhile read if you are interested in a behind the scenes look at finance and corporate management. Some of his recommendations and conclusions shouldn't surprise anyone though, since they are sound calls for smarter regulation, more accountability in management and greater transparency among banks.