The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It
With the immediacy of today’s NASDAQ close and the timeless power of a Greek tragedy, The Quants is at once a masterpiece of explanatory journalism, a gripping tale of ambition and hubris, and an ominous warning about Wall Street’s future.
In March of 2006, four of the world’s richest men sipped champagne in an opulent New York hotel. They were preparing to compete in a poker tournament with million-dollar stakes, but those numbers meant nothing to them. They were accustomed to risking billions.
On that night, these four men and their cohorts were the new kings of Wall Street. Muller, Griffin, Asness, and Weinstein were among the best and brightest of a new breed, the quants. Over the prior twenty years, this species of math whiz–technocrats who make billions not with gut calls or fundamental analysis but with formulas and high-speed computers–had usurped the testosterone-fueled, kill-or-be-killed risk-takers who’d long been the alpha males the world’s largest casino. The quants helped create a digitized money-trading machine that could shift billions around the globe with the click of a mouse. Few realized, though, that in creating this unprecedented machine, men like Muller, Griffin, Asness and Weinstein had sowed the seeds for history’s greatest financial disaster.
Drawing on unprecedented access to these four number-crunching titans, The Quants tells the inside story of what they thought and felt in the days and weeks when they helplessly watched much of their net worth vaporize–and wondered just how their mind-bending formulas and genius-level IQ’s had led them so wrong, so fast.
Where to Buy
- Publisher: Currency
- Publication Date: January 29, 2010
- Length: 354 pages
- ISBN-13: 978-0307453389
- ISBN-10: 0307453383
Scott Patterson is a Wall Street Journal investigative reporter focused on climate tech. He’s the author of The Quants, Dark Pools, and the upcoming Chaos Kings.
“Scott Patterson has the ability to see things you and I don’t notice. In The Quants he does an admirable job of debunking the myths of black box traders and provides a very entertaining narrative in the process.”
Nassim NicholasNYT Bestselling Author
“A riveting account…there are many dramatic moments and a good dose of schadenfreude in Scott Patterson’s The Quants.”
The Financial Times
“The Quants will keep hedge fund managers on the edge of their Aeron chairs, while the rest of us read in horror about their greed and their impact on the wider economy. A gripping tale right until the last page…but I fear this is perhaps not yet the end of the story.”
Paul WilmottFounding Partner of Caissa Capital
“Fascinating and deeply disturbing…Patterson gives faces and personalities to the quants, making their saga accessible and intriguing…[he’s] onto a big story that begs follow-up.”
The New York TimesAmerican Author
“Read this book if you want to understand how the collapse of the global financial system was at its core a failure of modern financial theory and its most ardent disciples. Patterson is able to gracefully explain the complex ideas underpinning our financial system through an extraordinarily engaging and insightful story.”
Mark ZandiChief Economist of Moody’s Economy.com
“A character-rich tale of how quirky geniuses cut their teeth on gambling, then moved on to the biggest casino of all, Wall Street. From blackjack to black swans, The Quants tells how we got where we are today.”
William PoundstoneAuthor of Fortune’s Formula
“Valuable…makes [the quants’] secretive world comprehensible…the story radiates with hubris, high stakes and expensive toys.”
“A compelling tale of greed and conceit, The Quants tells the inside story of the Wall Street rocket scientists who could couldn’t resist playing with numbers and nearly blew themselves up.”
Michael J. PanznerAuthor of Financial Armageddon
“Enlightening and enjoyable…Patterson masterfully recounts how brilliant mathematicians and technologists ignored the human element…If you’re serious about understanding the financial meltdown, you need to read this book.”