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Street Freak

Street Freak

Money and Madness at Lehman Brothers

When Jared Dillian joined Lehman Brothers in 2001, he fulfilled a life-long dream to make it on Wall Street—but he had no idea how close to the edge the job would take him.

Like Michael Lewis’s classic Liar’s Poker, Jared Dillian’s Street Freak takes readers behind the scenes of the legendary Lehman Brothers, exposing its outrageous and often hilarious corporate culture.

In this ultracompetitive Ivy League world where men would flip over each other’s ties to check out the labels (also known as the “Lehman Handshake”), Dillian was an outsider as an ex-military, working-class guy in a Men’s Wearhouse suit. But he was scrappy and determined; in interviews he told potential managers that, “Nobody can work harder than me. Nobody is willing to put in the hours I will put in. I am insane.” As it turned out, on Wall Street insanity is not an undesirable quality.

Dillian rose from green associate, checking IDs at the entrance to the trading floor in the paranoid days following 9/11, to become an integral part of Lehman’s culture in its final years as the firm’s head Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) trader. More than $1 trillion in wealth passed through his hands, but at the cost of an untold number of smashed telephones and tape dispensers. Over time, the exhilarating and explosively stressful job took its toll on him. The extreme highs and lows of the trading floor masked and exacerbated the symptoms of Dillian’s undiagnosed bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders, leading to a downward spiral that eventually landed him in a psychiatric ward.

Dillian put his life back together, returning to work healthier than ever before, but Lehman itself had seemingly gone mad, having made outrageous bets on commercial real estate, and was quickly headed for self-destruction.

A raucous account of the final years of Lehman Brothers, from 9/11 at its World Financial Center offices through the firm’s bankruptcy, including vivid portraits of trading-floor culture, the financial meltdown, and the company’s ultimate collapse, Street Freak is a raw, visceral, and wholly original memoir of life inside the belly of the beast during the most tumultuous time in financial history. In his electrifying and fresh voice, Dillian takes readers on a wild ride through madness and back, both inside Lehman Brothers and himself.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439181287 | 
  • September 2011
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Jared Dillian: STREET FREAK

When Jared Dillian joined Lehman Brothers in 2001, he fulfilled a life-long dream to make it on Wall Street—but he had no idea how close to the edge the job would take him.

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PROLOGUE
Portrait of a Trader | October 2, 2007


Back in 1999, when the world was brimming with optimism, when there were purple Yahoo! taxicabs patrolling the streets of San Francisco, I was a clerk on the options trading floor of the Pacific Coast Options Exchange. It was there that I learned how the financial markets worked. I spent much of my time standing in the back of the Intel-Oracle pit with the other clerks and stock jockeys; that is, the area where traders in Intel and Oracle options congregated.

There was a trader in the pit named Jack Taylor. Jack was six four, 240 pounds, with no concept of... see more
1
Spartacus | October 2, 2007


The market has its own intelligence. It has a sort of malignant omniscience that dictates that the market will do whatever fucks over the most people at any given moment in time. It knows your positions, and it knows your fears. You are a sinner in the hands of an angry God, and your positions are going to pay. Like Santa Claus, sort of, except that the market doesn’t care who’s been naughty or nice; more often than not, naughty wins. The market cares who is the most exposed, who is the most out over his skis, and who has taken the most risk at any given moment. And once the... see more

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