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Bull!: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004

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In 1982, the Dow hovered below 1000. Then, the market rose and rapidly gained speed until it peaked above 11,000. Noted journalist and financial reporter Maggie Mahar has written the first book on the remarkable bull market that began in 1982 and ended just in the early 2000s. For almost two decades, a colorful cast of characters such as Abby Joseph Cohen, Mary Meeker, Hen In 1982, the Dow hovered below 1000. Then, the market rose and rapidly gained speed until it peaked above 11,000. Noted journalist and financial reporter Maggie Mahar has written the first book on the remarkable bull market that began in 1982 and ended just in the early 2000s. For almost two decades, a colorful cast of characters such as Abby Joseph Cohen, Mary Meeker, Henry Blodget, and Alan Greenspan came to dominate the market news. This inside look at that 17-year cycle of growth, built upon interviews and unparalleled access to the most important analysts, market observers, and fund managers who eagerly tell the tales of excesses, presents the period with a historical perspective and explains what really happened and why.


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In 1982, the Dow hovered below 1000. Then, the market rose and rapidly gained speed until it peaked above 11,000. Noted journalist and financial reporter Maggie Mahar has written the first book on the remarkable bull market that began in 1982 and ended just in the early 2000s. For almost two decades, a colorful cast of characters such as Abby Joseph Cohen, Mary Meeker, Hen In 1982, the Dow hovered below 1000. Then, the market rose and rapidly gained speed until it peaked above 11,000. Noted journalist and financial reporter Maggie Mahar has written the first book on the remarkable bull market that began in 1982 and ended just in the early 2000s. For almost two decades, a colorful cast of characters such as Abby Joseph Cohen, Mary Meeker, Henry Blodget, and Alan Greenspan came to dominate the market news. This inside look at that 17-year cycle of growth, built upon interviews and unparalleled access to the most important analysts, market observers, and fund managers who eagerly tell the tales of excesses, presents the period with a historical perspective and explains what really happened and why.

30 review for Bull!: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vitalijus Sostak

    History is one of the most important mediums to understand market workings and this book is a fine piece of financial history: detailed, showing different aspects of 1980-1990s markets (individual investors, fund managers, analysts, media etc.) and giving plenty of amusing numbers just to put the euphoria in perspective. Highly recommended! It's telling, though, how events are clear in retrospect and with hindsight. Great bull market of 1990ies is presented in "crystal clear" manner with each and History is one of the most important mediums to understand market workings and this book is a fine piece of financial history: detailed, showing different aspects of 1980-1990s markets (individual investors, fund managers, analysts, media etc.) and giving plenty of amusing numbers just to put the euphoria in perspective. Highly recommended! It's telling, though, how events are clear in retrospect and with hindsight. Great bull market of 1990ies is presented in "crystal clear" manner with each and every part falling into neat place in the bigger puzzle. However, in the epilogue author tries to forecast what's coming (starting from late 2003) and this part of the book is an obvious failure: every pundit agrees that cyclical bear market is not over, that any rise will be limited to 20-40% or so and will be a sucker rally, sees problems and threats where (with hindsight) there were none and so on. "It's hard to forecast, especially about the future". ;)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vinothraj

    Excellent book. Good points from the Bull era, taken in context with the preceding decades. Bookmarked quite a few as investment philosophy notes. Would love to read a similar book of the times before, and after.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I like value investing and this book supports that, but I just didn't like reading about some of the characters. I like value investing and this book supports that, but I just didn't like reading about some of the characters.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Henrik Haapala

    den 10 januari 2018 12:39 • "In truth, a knowledge of history is an investor's best defense against error. Despite all the financial engineering that attempts to eliminate risk, cycles appear to be as inevitable as the seasons. Investors who understand these cycles are more likely to survive the winter of a bear market and to avoid its final phase - despair. They know that eventually, summer always returns, and more than that, they know that somewhere on the planet it is always summer." p. 384 • den 10 januari 2018 12:39 • "In truth, a knowledge of history is an investor's best defense against error. Despite all the financial engineering that attempts to eliminate risk, cycles appear to be as inevitable as the seasons. Investors who understand these cycles are more likely to survive the winter of a bear market and to avoid its final phase - despair. They know that eventually, summer always returns, and more than that, they know that somewhere on the planet it is always summer." p. 384 • Individuals made up the market: "As early as 1992 Americans with incomes under 75000 dollars owned 42% of all publicly traded stocks." p.105 • Invest in neglected asset classes. When stocks are going down, gold/commodities is probably going up. • "Even in the seventies, when both Treasuries and the S&P 500 disappointed, shrewd investors put their money to work by investing in real assets. From 1970 trough 1980, oil returned an average of 34,7%, gold 31,6%, US coins 27,7%, silver 23,7%, stamps 21,8%, Chinese ceramics 21,6%, US farmland 14%, and housing 10,2%, staying nicely ahead of inflation in a decade when the consumer price index rose by an average of 7,7% a year." p.354 • "For the greater the mania in one sector of a market, or in one stock market, the more likely that neglected asset classes elsewhere offer huge appreciation potential." p.357 • "The hard truth is that the market cannot grow that much faster than GDP. In March of 2000, stocks were valued at 181% of GDP - up from 60% at the beginning of the decade." p.360 • "After a bubble has burst, the classic pattern is for the market to trade sideways for years." p.361 • "There is always a disposition in people's minds to think the existing conditions will be permanent. When the market is down and dull, it is hard to make people believe that this is the prelude to a period of activity and advance. When prices are up and the country is prosperous, investors are even more loath to believe that the years of plenty will end." p.362 • Bear market stages: "the earliest stage is characterized by denial, increased anxiety, and fear. The second stage is panic. People suddenly say, 'I've got to sell'. The third phase is despair." p.364 • Primary trend of 10 to 20 years: "whether the tide is coming in or going out." • "losers game, not winners game": In a bear market, this is what is most important: not making mistakes. The goal is to conserve capital. When a long bear market finally ends, those with cash will find bargains galore." p.367 • Taleb: Focus not on the odds, but on the size of the risk. • Mistaking probability for certainty. • Diversify and managing portfolio: "Getting the right asset class is so much more critical as a protector or a driver of your returns than focusing on individual stocks." Individuals make a big error by spending too much of their time worrying about the names, and too little thinking about how their portfolio is structured and whether they are diversified enough." p. 372 • Getting dividends important: "In 50-odd years of investing Richard Russell had never bought a stock that did not pay a dividend. Russell called compounding "The Royal Road to Riches"." p.381 • Wealthy mindset: The wealthy investor never feels pressured to 'make money' in the market. Waiting for opportunity: "And, if no outstanding values are available, the rich man sits on his hands. 'Periods of inactivity' can be painful, as Warren Buffett acknowledged in the spring of 2003, but not nearly as painful as watching savings evaporate." p.382

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jaak Ennuste

    Excellent review of the boom and bust which happened over a 20-year period. We tend to think of the 2000 crash as the end of the dot-com bubble, but it was more than that. Euphoria had taken hold of the stock market in general, and blue chip companies were also mostly overvalued. Each crisis has its own characteristics. Otherwise it would be easier to see them forming. But some elements remain the same. You can draw many similarities between the crisis of 2000, and the one for 2008. Scarily, ofte Excellent review of the boom and bust which happened over a 20-year period. We tend to think of the 2000 crash as the end of the dot-com bubble, but it was more than that. Euphoria had taken hold of the stock market in general, and blue chip companies were also mostly overvalued. Each crisis has its own characteristics. Otherwise it would be easier to see them forming. But some elements remain the same. You can draw many similarities between the crisis of 2000, and the one for 2008. Scarily, often I felt that the market environment in the late 1990s was similar as today. What usually happens during a boom is that fundamentals of companies are forgotten. A stock is worth what the highest bidder is currently willing to pay, not the cash flows it will generate in the future. Historical P/E ratios do not matter anymore, for some reason. Retail investors pour into the market, as "stocks always go up". Investors believe that the FED is able to support the prices indefinitely by cutting rates and doing open markets operations. The complicated part, as always, is understanding when the party will end. Many pros took a dim view on the market in 1996 and 1997, but that was 3 years before the crash. Meanwhile, some of them lost their careers, while others lost respect from others. No one likes a bear in a bull market. It is true that even if they switched to a more conservative portfolio some 3 years before the peak, they would have most likely outperformed someone who was entirely invested in stocks the whole time. What is more, perverse incentives will always play its part. Stock analysts, brokerage firms, and investment bankers are better off telling us that stocks will go up. This generates business for them. Politicians also want the rally to continue, at least until the next election. All of this blocks beneficial regulation. During the 90s, earnings were manipulated by using legal but misleading accounting standards. Some honorable politicians tried to change it, but even the most obvious legislation may not pass if the lobbyists are strongly against it. One wants to throw in the towel after reading about such unfair nonsense.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Enrique

    An excellent, and very honest, introduction to the stock market and investment. I think the main lessons are: first, if you don’t have a big pocket to afford big loses don’t buy stocks. Second, go with treasury bonds, gold and maybe commodities. Third, don’t believe to all journalists, many of them work with a hidden agenda. One interesting point is the inevitability of the crisis: is like a huracan, any effort to make it stop is futile, it’s better to be prepared for the worst. I think one problem An excellent, and very honest, introduction to the stock market and investment. I think the main lessons are: first, if you don’t have a big pocket to afford big loses don’t buy stocks. Second, go with treasury bonds, gold and maybe commodities. Third, don’t believe to all journalists, many of them work with a hidden agenda. One interesting point is the inevitability of the crisis: is like a huracan, any effort to make it stop is futile, it’s better to be prepared for the worst. I think one problem of the crisis is that you know is coming, but anyway you don’t believe it, you prefer not to see. Maybe the next big step to avoid crisis is convert the crisis in part of our lives. Any 6 or 7 years you must create a crisis: close the banks, don’t borrow money, don’t buy or sell anything. I’m totally ignorant of what we can do, but the best example is the Bible mandate of the 7 year release, we must release the debts of our neighbor and the banks must release debts of the debtors. Is like a simulation of a huracan: you obviously can’t successfully create a powerful huracan, but if you have the way to simulate something similar you will be best prepared for the real one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    This book teach us so much about the stock market even reading information of past decades of market cycles it give us a lesson that nothing has change still the same and worse pure speculation and corruption no other way to describe it, but I can say that it is not only corruption creates disasters, investor help a lot to increase the house of cards ... very frustrated to read and realice that the snow ball keep going over and over, very good book

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shankar P S

    This well known book is now a classic, chronicling the extreme dot-com Era bull market, ending in 2000. The book is expansive, covering the market mania from 1982 to 2000. The author has provided references and notes extensively for every paragraph, making this a book a starting resource for readers who want to know about the time. The book tracks most of the important people involved/affected by the stock market's wild swing. This is overall a great book. This well known book is now a classic, chronicling the extreme dot-com Era bull market, ending in 2000. The book is expansive, covering the market mania from 1982 to 2000. The author has provided references and notes extensively for every paragraph, making this a book a starting resource for readers who want to know about the time. The book tracks most of the important people involved/affected by the stock market's wild swing. This is overall a great book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven Towns

    Re-read every x (5?) years .... Sampling of notes: Everyone knew that, over time, stocks always went up. [...] no matter what price you paid for the stock. 皆で渡れば怖くない "stealth bear market" Wanger: the proximate cause of the first avalanche can be anything, and, in the end, the trigger is unimportant. Mauling of 1970, Nifty Fifty still stood tall --> '73/74, '82 Re-read every x (5?) years .... Sampling of notes: Everyone knew that, over time, stocks always went up. [...] no matter what price you paid for the stock. 皆で渡れば怖くない "stealth bear market" Wanger: the proximate cause of the first avalanche can be anything, and, in the end, the trigger is unimportant. Mauling of 1970, Nifty Fifty still stood tall --> '73/74, '82

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    An ABSOLUTE REQUIRED read for anyone who invests in the markets. The history lessons alone are worth the read, ignoring the engaging narrative. To invest in the market you need to understand past cycles and how secular cycles affect performance. At the end of the day, what this hammers home, and the only thing that matters, is the price you pay. It's all about valuation. An ABSOLUTE REQUIRED read for anyone who invests in the markets. The history lessons alone are worth the read, ignoring the engaging narrative. To invest in the market you need to understand past cycles and how secular cycles affect performance. At the end of the day, what this hammers home, and the only thing that matters, is the price you pay. It's all about valuation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Manish Yadav

    Never underestimate a book recommended by the saint of omaha himself Marvellous read. Explains really well the workings and incentives on which the wall street players function. It will also senstize retail investors abt the importance of cycles in market.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason Orthman

    Really interesting book that provides an emotive insight into the exuberance of the 1990s tech boom in the US. Good insights into human behaviour compounded by the media and supported by paid financial experts. Identifying what is fundamental versus a a narrative is critical in markets.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nishant Sampat

    Book recommended by Warren Buffett

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    Interesting to learn about the various financial cycles over an eventful period, but the book probably could have been 1/3 shorter.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Chauhan

    A useful read into the secular bull & bear cycles and how they bias the instincts of investors. Other than that it is mostly topical.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    Expected a lot more from this book with respect to the actual reasons, triggers and mechanics behind booms and busts. Instead this book was just "ok" and for the most part uninspiring. Expected a lot more from this book with respect to the actual reasons, triggers and mechanics behind booms and busts. Instead this book was just "ok" and for the most part uninspiring.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Priyankar Sarkar

    This book is better than a movie! Loved it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christiaan Quyn

    A wonderful history lesson on the bull market of the 80’s and 90’s. Context to the era, the major players involved along with a detailed account of the facts present a startling case of excesses and irrational behavior that anyone interested in economics and the markets can learn much from. History does not always repeat itself but it does rhyme. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, the irrational behavior, skewed idea of risk/reward and psychological denial that accompa A wonderful history lesson on the bull market of the 80’s and 90’s. Context to the era, the major players involved along with a detailed account of the facts present a startling case of excesses and irrational behavior that anyone interested in economics and the markets can learn much from. History does not always repeat itself but it does rhyme. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, the irrational behavior, skewed idea of risk/reward and psychological denial that accompany a spectacular bull market should terrify everyone. This book beautifully explains why that is the case.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joel Gray

    THE EXPLOSION OF INFORMATION CAN MASK THE FEW FACTS THAT ARE TRULY IMPORTANT. Platforms make it easier to switch funds and shares - encourages short-termism. Men go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly and one by one. The nifty fifty hit their high in 1972 of 80x. The nifty fifty shed on average 54% of their value in 1974. All day you wait for the pitch you like, then when the fielders are asleep you step up and hit it. In 1982 the Dow was at 8x. By 2001 the average 401(k) would h THE EXPLOSION OF INFORMATION CAN MASK THE FEW FACTS THAT ARE TRULY IMPORTANT. Platforms make it easier to switch funds and shares - encourages short-termism. Men go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly and one by one. The nifty fifty hit their high in 1972 of 80x. The nifty fifty shed on average 54% of their value in 1974. All day you wait for the pitch you like, then when the fielders are asleep you step up and hit it. In 1982 the Dow was at 8x. By 2001 the average 401(k) would have 40% of assets in the company they worked for. Defined benefit plans had a limit of 10%. Deals give companies more ways to play with their accounting. Taleb made his living betting on unlikely events. By early 2000 technology and telecom companies accounted for 45% of the s&p500. IF you can find the right analogy suddenly people understand.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    I was torn between rating this book as 'ok' or 'I liked it'. On one level, it was an excellent book in terms of being packed with details about the people and events of the 1982-1999 bull market. The author did an excellent job of keeping all the facts straight, making the story flow, and keeping it interesting. On the other hand, it didn't meeting my expectations in terms of education about the stock market. I would highly recommend that an investor read Juggling Dynamite and A Short History of I was torn between rating this book as 'ok' or 'I liked it'. On one level, it was an excellent book in terms of being packed with details about the people and events of the 1982-1999 bull market. The author did an excellent job of keeping all the facts straight, making the story flow, and keeping it interesting. On the other hand, it didn't meeting my expectations in terms of education about the stock market. I would highly recommend that an investor read Juggling Dynamite and A Short History of Financial Euphoria in order to get a more direct message. I would say that if you want to read this book, read the first 50 pages or so then read the last chapter. The 200 pages in the middle are only for those who like soap operas.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vonetta

    Great overview of the causes and effects of the bull and bust of the 90s and early 00s. Mahar is definitely a journalist: I liked the way she integrated personal stories with the facts. I think Michael Lewis does a better job with creating a compelling narrative, but this was well researched and enjoyable. An update would be awesome, though. I'd love I see how Mahar explains the events of the past 5 to 7 years. Great overview of the causes and effects of the bull and bust of the 90s and early 00s. Mahar is definitely a journalist: I liked the way she integrated personal stories with the facts. I think Michael Lewis does a better job with creating a compelling narrative, but this was well researched and enjoyable. An update would be awesome, though. I'd love I see how Mahar explains the events of the past 5 to 7 years.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cytokine

    I read up to p. 262. It appears to be a very well researched book, but that is my impression only - I have not checked footnotes. But I could not finish. Given the current state of the market, this book is applicable ... and probably needs a new edition.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tirath

    The book is a fantastic review of what happened leading up to the 2000 IT bubble and how crazy things really became. Surprisingly easy read. Not technical or jargonny; is almost like a chapter out of a history of financial markets. - Great Book. - Will be referring to it again

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

    Interesting read and an important read if you are too young to remember it. I read this book sometime around graduating college in 2006 and it {in combination with a few other reads} made me skeptical enough to turn down a job opportunity in financial services.

  25. 4 out of 5

    grundoon

    Exactly what the full title advertises - an approachable and well written history, if a bit subjective. The edition I have is unfortunately the first, rather than the one published less than a year later with another 40-ish pages, and I've no idea what was added/changed. Exactly what the full title advertises - an approachable and well written history, if a bit subjective. The edition I have is unfortunately the first, rather than the one published less than a year later with another 40-ish pages, and I've no idea what was added/changed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    kc

    read this a while back.. and now we are experiencing exactly what this book said would happen (WRT the stock market)...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    A very detailed and empirical account of the US stock markets through history. Sweet book, must read for anyone wanting to dabble in stocks.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Great lessons on how to think about financial markets from their history.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gary J

    Maggie gets it..understanding market cycles is important

  30. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Excellent historical summary of financial markets and the role of media

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