Book Reviews
The Buy Side: A Wall Street trader’s tale of spectacular excess

The atmosphere of the trading floor is well captured and many characters will stay with you after reading. There are no boundaries when it comes to milking a dollar

“The Buy Side” in Wall Street parlance refers to those who manage the money.  They are the ones who place the ‘buy’ orders with the brokerage houses, which are referred to as the ‘sell’ side. “The Buy Side” by Turney Duff, a Wall Street hedge fund trader is a fast paced read. By now, nothing of Wall Street excesses shock or surprise anyone.

This book is his story on Wall Street between 1994, when he started on the ‘sell’ side before moving on to the ‘buy’ side after three to four years. He came from a small place in the US to make his life as a journalist and ends up joining Wall Street, thanks to the clout of one of his uncles who has enough push to get him placed, irrespective of his total absence of interest, knowledge or background about investing and stocks.

To his credit, he picks up enough to graduate from a dealing room assistant to a partner in a hedge fund, investing money in hedge funds, where portfolios are churned on a minute-by-minute basis.

The book shows the cosy relationship between the ‘sell’ side and the ‘buy’ side. The sell side gets its commissions on the business done by the ‘buy’ side. The buy side gets its money from delivering returns and getting a fee on managing the money plus a share on the gains it delivers to its investors. So the ‘sell’ side has to offer every imaginable temptation ( booze, drugs, women, cruises, and every other form of entertainment or pandering required in order to get a higher share of business) and the ‘buy’ side has to ‘cultivate’ some special contacts who give them the edge of ‘early’ warnings about changes in events that will move the price of a stock in a big way. Without this, it is difficult for someone to deliver spectacular returns that will draw in yet more money under management.

Turney Duff acquires the skills needed to be a successful ‘buy’ side money manager. He makes no bones about the ruthlessness needed to overcome conscience bites when money is at stake. The book also shows the power that the ‘buy’ side has that makes the sell side grovel and eat a humble pie at every turn.

The book is a good chronicle of the excesses that the money management industry ails from. From excessive salaries and bonuses to lifestyles that make million dollar salaries seem inadequate, Wall Street gets a tick in the box for every known (and some unknown) ills. There are no boundaries when it comes to milking a dollar.

Turney Duff’s book is also a journey of the decline and fall in his personal life thanks to his dealing with temptations in the easier way—by succumbing to them. Drugs, booze and sex become so much a part of his life that they finally kill his career in a brutally short period.

Turney Duff worked for Morgan Stanley, Galleon (of the Rajarathinam insider trading fame), Argus and Kramer Berkowitz. The atmosphere of the trading floor is well captured and many characters will stay with you after reading.

The book is also a chronicle of the poor habits controlling and destroying a career and a person. His addiction to cocaine and the description of his binges makes one wonder how he could recall so many details. Addiction to drugs and booze combined with an extravagant lifestyle leaves someone poor at the end of nearly two decades on Wall Street.  And with many of those years giving seven and eight figure dollar salaries!  In an industry where the high paying jobs have no continuity beyond the day you finish your work surely needs a strong temperament to survive. Career spans are short because competition is on whom you know and when you know rather than what you know. Performances are ranked every day. Temptations thrown at you each moment and the ease at which one succumbs are perhaps directly in relation to the stay in the profession. An industry in whose dictionary the words morals, honesty and trust are missing. The dividing line between right and wrong is only evident if one is caught.

Turney Duff himself comes across as someone who oscillates between what is good and what he does to make his living, but not strong enough to keep off the grass and the glass. His “after- hours” became so big that it ruined his life.

This book may not be ‘news’ to those in the money management industry. It is not on par with something like “Bonfire of Vanities” or “Liar’s Poker” in terms of literary milestones. However, it is a breezy read and well written by a Wall Street insider who aspired to be a journalist. Don’t look for any inside or new financial scoops either.


Unilever raises stake in HUL to 67% via open offer

“Based on the shares tendered which represent 14.8% of HUL, Unilever would increase its stake from 52.48% to 67.28%,” Unilever Plc said in a statement on Thursday night

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods major Unilever Plc has increased its stake in the Indian arm Hindustan Unilever (HUL) to 67.28%, following an open offer which commenced on 21 June and closed on Thursday.


The company fell short of its target as it had planned to hike the stake in HUL to 75% through the open offer from the earlier stake of 52.48%.


“Based on the shares tendered which represent 14.8% of HUL, Unilever would increase its stake from 52.48% to 67.28%,” Unilever Plc said in a statement on Thursday night.


Shareholders of HUL tendered 319,699,278 shares during the tender period for the open offer, it added.


“The offer price of Rs600 per share values the transaction at approximately Rs191.8 billion (Rs19,180 crore) or 2.45 billion euros (based on prevailing foreign exchange rates),” the company said.


Commenting on the development, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “We are pleased to have received such a good response to our voluntary open offer and that—as a result—we will significantly increase our stake in Hindustan Unilever, an excellent Indian business with a proud heritage and the potential for attractive long-term growth”.


The company said that on completion of the verification of shares tendered, the details of the final acceptance will be communicated by Unilever plc on 11 July 2013.


“The payment for shares tendered and accepted will be completed on or before 18 July 2013, at which point Unilever Plc will acquire full beneficial ownership of the shares tendered and accepted in the open offer,” it added.


The open offer was first announced on 30 April 2013 and is being managed by HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) Pvt Ltd.


HUL's portfolio includes leading brands such as Lux, Lifebuoy, Surf Excel, Rin, Wheel, Sunsilk, Pepsodent, Closeup Axe, Brooke Bond, Bru, Knorr, Kissan, Kwality Wall's and Pureit.


The company, which employs over 16,000 employees, posted net sales of Rs26,317.15 crore for the 2012-13 fiscal. Shares of HUL were trading at Rs600.75 on the BSE in morning trade, up 2.27% from its previous close.



Gool Daruwalla

3 years ago

HUL on 5 Jul 2013 was LTP at 609/=.

Gool Daruwalla

3 years ago

HUL will have to raise the price of the buy back offer to Rs.800/= if it wants to further acquire a stake from the public, to bring its holding to 75%. HUL paid UIEL Inr1800/= to demerge the export unit from the parent body sometime back. Do you still feel that the INR 600/- they offered the public was a good deal ???

Boys in custody and the women who abuse them
The US’s system of juvenile justice has long been troubled. But recent studies have revealed a surprising new menace: female staffers at detention facilities sexually abusing the male youngsters in their care
The older authority figure wins the trust of the young target by cultivating a false friendship, having heart-to-heart conversations, giving gifts, offering protection. And then the sex ensues, sometimes forced, sometimes seemingly consensual.
It is a classic predatory tactic known as “grooming,” and no one familiar with it could have been terribly surprised when a new report from the U.S. Department of Justice declared that young people in the country’s juvenile detention facilities are being victimized in just this way. The youngsters in custody are often deeply troubled, lacking parents, looking for allies. And the people in charge of the facilities wield great power over the day-to-day lives of their charges.
What was a genuine shock to many was the finding that in the vast majority of instances, it was female staff members who were targeting and exploiting the male teens in their custody.
The phenomenon -- a particularly unexamined corner of the nation’s long-troubled juvenile justice system – presents an array of challenges for those concerned about better protecting young people in custody: encouraging male teens to understand such sex is, in fact, a crime, that it is never really consensual, and that its long term effects can be seriously harmful; requiring corrections officials to stop blaming the young boys and meaningfully punish the female staffers; and establishing standards of conduct meant to end the abuse.
“Many corrections leaders continue to minimize this abuse, arguing that it’s the kids who are manipulating the staff, that these boys are asking for it,” said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of the California-based nonprofit Just Detention International, which advocates for the elimination of prison rape. “That’s simply not good enough.”
The Justice Department first discovered the startling form of abuse in 2010, when it surveyed more than 9,000 youngsters living in juvenile halls and group homes. More than 10 percent of the respondents said they’d been sexually abused by staff and 92 percent said their abuser was female.
In the last three years, the numbers haven’t changed much. 
The Justice Department released its second report last month, and this time researchers surveyed more than 8,700 juveniles housed in 326 facilities across the country. In all, the facilities house more than 18,000 juveniles, representing about one quarter of the nation’s total number of youngsters living in detention centers. 
Drawing on their sample, Justice Department researchers estimate that 1,390 juveniles in the facilities they examined have experienced sex abuse at the hands of the staff supervising them, a rate of nearly 8 percent. Twenty percent who said they were victimized by staff said it happened on more than 10 occasions. Nine out of 10 victims were males abused by female staff. 
Nearly two-thirds of the abused youngsters said that the officials lured them into sexual relationships by giving them special treatment, treating them like a favorite, giving gifts and pictures. 
Twenty-one percent said staff gave them drugs or alcohol in exchange for sex.
Stannow said that the rate of abuse perpetrated by female guards on male victims is the result of a “dangerous combination” of cultural and institutional problems, not the least of which is the fact that women forcing males into sex does not comport with society’s conventional definition of rape. 
“When you have an extreme power differential and absolute unchecked power, bad things start happening,” Stannow said. “When you combine this with a culture where sex abuse by females on males isn’t taken seriously, then you have the perfect set-up for women with all this power to get away with it.”
Stannow and others say that the young male victims themselves may not even consider their relationships with women to constitute sex abuse. They might consider it consensual because they didn’t actively fight off their abusers.
“The biggest concern for me is what this means they’re not getting inside detention, which is a positive relationship with adults and with authority figures. They’ve not learned what those positive relationships should be like, and, for many, they’ve never had them in their life,” said Michele Deitch, an attorney and senior lecturer at the University of Texas’s School of Public Affairs in Austin. 
“These boys aren’t getting the kinds of treatment and programming that are supposed to make them more productive citizens and healthier youth,” said Deitch, who focuses on improving safety conditions in prisons and juvenile detention centers. “Many have experienced trauma their entire lives and now this is just more trauma for them to deal with.”
Reggie Wilkinson, the former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said that consensual sex between a corrections officer and an inmate is impossible given the power imbalance between the two.
But he also said that, in some cases, both female guards and the boys they molest share some responsibility.
“There’s no such thing as consensual sex when you are supervising someone, regardless of their age, but the reality of it is that some of the guys in prison are very persuasive and some of the women are very persuasive,” Wilkinson said.
“I’m not sure anybody has got a real handle on why the Bureau of Justice Statistics is finding these kinds of numbers, but it’s on the radar screen of a lot of people.”
Wilkinson and Stannow agree that it is important to keep women as detention facility personnel. They often do great work. But the predators, they say, must be identified, halted and prosecuted.
“I think in many cases female staff are better suited than males,” Wilkinson said. “A good mix of staff is what we always want. That so-called motherly impact is a big deal and women who are stern but fair with the inmates I think can perform that job as well as any male could.”


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