The Asylum

The Asylum : Inside the Rise and Ruin of the Global Oil Market

3.82 (120 ratings by Goodreads)

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The Asylum is a stunning expose 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 25mm | 331g
  • William Morrow Paperbacks
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0061766283
  • 9780061766282
  • 841,603

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Back cover copy

For the first time, hear the story of the rise and ruin of the global oil market-- in the words of the oil traders who built it.

Meet the self-anointed kings of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the place where global oil prices are set to this day. In some ways, they are everything you would expect them to be: a secretive, members-only club of men and women who live lavish lifestyles; cavort with politicians, strippers, and celebrities; and blissfully jack up oil prices while profiting off the misery of the working class.

In other ways, they are nothing you can imagine: many come from working-class families themselves, the progeny of Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants who escaped war-torn Europe to claw their way to the top.

Led by the reluctant son of a produce merchant, the rough-and-tumble traders of Nymex usurped the power of Big Oil in the 1980s to create an even bigger and more dangerous colossus--an all-too-human experiment in how raw ambition and the endless quest for wealth can change the very nature of both man and market.

Part oral history and part exposé, The Asylum ventures deep into the belly of the beast, revealing how the unchecked and incestuous relationships between Washington and Wall Street paved the way for an era of $100 oil. From the grand alliances to the outrageous fortunes that have repeatedly brought the economy to the brink, this is one real-life story both Washington and Wall Street don't want you to read.
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Review quote

"A riveting tale of greed gone mad. Goodman nails the culture... A great ride for market fans..." -- BusinessWeek "Finance journalist Goodman traces Nymex's transformation into 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, swear and bring guns, drugs, and hookers right into the trading pit...One of the year's most colorful business histories." -- Publishers Weekly "A seriously informative and amusing look into the oil trading pits." -- Huffington Post "Goodman wrote about Nymex for the Wall Street Journal before expanding her knowledge into a book...The inside look at a mostly closed institution is enlightening. Goodman's details about the infighting within Nymex membership are astounding, mainly because the members don't seem to realize they are destroying their path to wealth." -- Kirkus Reviews "Goodman reveals a rough-and-tumble group with little formal education, who dress down, answer to no one, and are tougher than marines. Activities at the exchange are rife with cheating and overindulgence in drugs, prostitutes, and illegal gambling...Biting and infuriating, with even a `Deep Throat' in the scoop." -- Booklist "In the complex world of the energy markets where pit trading is a blue-collar profession, Goodman captures the grit and spirit of the floor and the personalities in the board room... Her depiction of the players and the place to ring true." -- Reuters "Goodman's book ultimately concludes that the price of oil is determined less by OPEC, and more by a few hundred speculators in Manhattan who are exempted from regulation by means of several loopholes." -- Tom Kloza, OPIS "A rollicking, fast-paced, decades-long tale of a marketplace that sprang out of a potato futures market...When the instability of supply and relentless demand drives up price levels and volatility, these traders do very well indeed. And when that happens, the partying really kicks into high gear." -- National Resources Defense Council "Welcome to a bet-on-anything, testosterone-drenched world...written with tremendous verve and insight." -- AR (Absolute Return + Alpha)
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About Leah McGrath Goodman

An award-winning investigative journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman has written for Forbes, Fortune, Financial Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and Barron's in New York and London. A member of The London Speaker Bureau and writer-at-large for Institutional Investor, she splits her time between New York, the U.K., and her home in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she is a contributor for The Commons.
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Rating details

120 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 26% (31)
4 40% (48)
3 26% (31)
2 8% (9)
1 1% (1)
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