For decades, Henry Kaufman has been considered one of the most knowledgeable and influential figures on Wall Street. Originally a researcher and eventually head of research for Salomon Brothers, Kaufman has been predicting market trends and warning about potential crises since 1962. On Money and Markets: A Wall Street Memoir presents his analysis of four decades of financial affairs in the United States, exploring the nature of America’s “economic democracy” with exceptional insight. In language aimed not at specialists but rather at the general, literate reader, Kaufman highlights the growth of the equity market; the involvement of the federal government in monetary policy and market manipulation; and the rise and aftermath of the decades of conspicuous consumption and reckless spending and accumulation of debt in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Concurrently, he reveals his role in shaping the direction of financial markets and his unpopular stance against what he calls the excesses of entrepreneurship that have often led not only to bad business judgments, but also to unethical conduct and illegal activities by some of the country’s most influential business leaders and financiers.
Kaufman expresses his own principles stridently: he says he has consistently called for truth and accuracy over political expediency—a position not always welcomed by ardent financiers or equally exuberant government officials. One must recognize, of course, that in On Money and Markets Kaufman is intent on telling his side of the story about a number of controversial events in which he was a key figure. Not everyone may find his arguments convincing, but the reader who brings no prejudices to this book will discover that Kaufman takes pains to be objective, self-critical when necessary, and deeply concerned that his minority position on issues such as the 1987 stock market crash and the collaboration (willing or otherwise) between government and business is recorded for future judgment.