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Publisher's Summary

At the height of the roaring 20s, Swedish émigré Ivar Kreuger made a fortune raising money in America and loaning it to Europe in exchange for matchstick monopolies. His enterprise was a rare success story throughout the Great Depression.Yet after Kreuger's suicide in 1932, the true nature of his empire emerged. Driven by success to adopt ever-more perilous practices, Kreuger had turned to shell companies in tax havens, fudged accounting figures, off-balance-sheet accounting, even forgery. He created a raft of innovative financial products - many of them precursors to instruments wreaking havoc in today's markets. When his Wall Street empire collapsed, millions went bankrupt.Frank Partnoy, a frequent commentator on financial disaster for the Financial Times, The New York Times, NPR, and CBS's 60 Minutes, recasts the life story of a remarkable yet forgotten genius in ways that force us to rethink our ideas about the wisdom of crowds, the invisible hand, and the free and unfettered market.
©2009 Frank Partnoy; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"A fascinating depiction of a man and his era (Greta Garbo makes memorable cameos), this book is a snapshot of a time all too familiar now: a speculative real estate bubble, unbridled consumer spending, investors buying derivatives based on sketchy information and a Wall Street operating by its own rules." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Don R. on 06-17-10

excellent Depression era history-biography

A powerful morality tale - Ivar Kreuger's scams are as relevant today as ever, and the reading of financial biography works nicely.
Partnoy peppers his biography with colorful history, as well as the occasional tangent (e.g., where did the term "bucket shop" come from?).

Whereas Ponzi's scheme (and Madoff's variation) are relatively simple pyramids, feasible only when observers opt to maintain their ignorance, Kreuger's methods are far more convoluted, and such methods continue to elude professionals today.

The reading is accessible, the pacing appropriate, and the lessons learned far more useful than those available in most financial/biographical options.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Frances on 12-29-09

A fascinating story well-told

This was a terrific story of amazingly creative deception and greed - almost hard to believe because it had so many twists and turns. I really enjoyed LJ Ganzer's narration and energetic delivery.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Jeanette on 11-09-10

History is far from bunk

Beautifully read and paced, this is an important and accessible account of an important time in the history of capitalism. It is easy to follow and holds important messages about the financial system in the USA and Europe before WWII. There are many messages in The Match King: that systems can be manipulated, not always illegally; that it is easy to blame the 'bad apple' for financial disasters, and ignore the nature of the system; that positive aspects of negative behaviours may be forgotten. I highly recommend this audio book if you want understand how easy it can be to 'hi-jack' economic systems, and how 'gullible' those in power can be. 'Those who know no history are doomed to repeat it', and 'if it sounds to good to be true, it is'. Enjoy.

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