The Asylum is a stunning exposé by a seasoned Wall Street journalist that once and for all reveals the truth behind America’s oil addiction in all its unscripted and dysfunctional glory.
In the tradition of Too Big to Fail and Liar’s Poker, author Leah McGrath Goodman tells the amazing-but-true story of a band of struggling, hardscrabble traders who, after enduring decades of scorn from New York’s stuffy financial establishment, overcame more than a century of failure, infighting, and brinksmanship to build the world’s reigning oil empire—entirely by accident.
What should be a quasi-public utility the market exchange where oil and gas are traded is actually a madhouse of vice, vendettas, and corrupt crypto-capitalism, according to this breathless account of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Finance journalist Goodman traces NYMEX's transformation since the 1960s from an obscure market specializing in potato futures to a colossus with a stranglehold on the sale of the world's energy. Goodman explores the lurid culture of NYMEX traders, scruffy hustlers who shriek and swear and pummel each other over deals, and bring guns, drugs, and hookers right into the trading pit. It's an entertaining scene, but Goodman's account is hobbled by the strictures of the business epic, which require her to devote inordinate space to NYMEX's boardroom politics and the posturing of its chairmen. This is one of the year's most colorful business histories, but the larger importance of NYMEX remains elusive; the author paints it sometimes as a force for price transparency and stability, sometimes as a dangerously ill-regulated cesspool of speculative scams and occult market manipulations that are more insinuated than demonstrated. Photos.
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If even a small percentage of Americans read this book and did their due diligence, the reform could have an impact similar to that of Martin Luther's 95 theses had in his day.