Your favorite financier from the past

Carl Van Loon's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 367

Hi all,

This entertaining post is for the history and financial history monkeys out there. What is your favorite financier of the past and why? Most of us have read about the Weinbergs and Rohatyns of the past but I'd like to hear about the less known but equally inspiring figures of the 20th century and older.

Cheers!
Torero

Comments (83)

Jan 29, 2018
Torero:

I'd like to hear about the less known but equally inspiring figures of the 20th century and older.

Probably Hammurabi, King of the first dynasty of Babylon, who made the first known attempt to regulate interest rates in 1800 BC.

He is more well known for his 'code'... 'eye for an eye' and the like... which really makes you think. What is the price to pay for injury to self? Injury lawyers worldwide including Saul Goodman would be proud. But, ethically is it right? We have the laws in place in the US which condemn cruel and unusual punishment, which is a direct reflection of how far we have come since Hammurabi. In ethics and finance.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jan 30, 2018

Lol'd at Saul Goodman. Good stuff

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

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Jan 30, 2018

John Law, the 18th century Scottish founder of modern finance.

Jan 30, 2018

Lew Glucksman. Guy was the absolute man. I've written about him many times before. Google him if you are unaware.

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Jan 30, 2018

I've read about him before! Him and Gus Levy are two of my favorite traders of the last century. I think Lew is briefly mentioned in "King of Capital". If you haven't already, I highly suggest reading it. Cheers!

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Jan 31, 2018

I've always been fascinated by Robert Morris. Was the original US Treasurer, though didn't hold the title. Had the first chance at the gig, but didn't want to give up his lifestyle. Alas, Hamilton became the first Treasury Secretary of the US.

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Jan 31, 2018

Jesse Livermore. Confessions of a Stock Operator was a great book. Talk about a guy who made his fortune and lost it six times over.

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Jan 31, 2018
  • Michael Robert Milken

Chrysler and Mattel were among many companies rescued from bankruptcy by Milken's junk bonds. He provided capital to more than 3,000 companies, including what are now Barnes & Noble, Time Warner, Mellon Financial, Hasbro and Calvin Klein.

Milken's "junk" helped Ted Turner create CNN.. a few weeks later Turner announced that he'd donate $1 billion to UN causes.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Jan 31, 2018

Milken is impressive. Invented a whole new market for junk bonds. Basically invented PE industry. He did some shady stuff but have to be impressed with guys who were the first.

But I can think of 10 guys similar to him. Keynes invented modern macro even if he didn't get everything right. Even a guy like Friedman whose viewed as his opposition really was a guy critiquing and improving what Keynes wrote.

Soros is impressive. A foundational guy.

Buffet I think is a whole hypocrite and does it knowingly. He plays one rule on tv - as a buy and hold forever folksy Guy - but that isn't how he made his first fortune. Besides the fact he's had like 3 wives for the last thirty years. Actually really respect how well he manipulates the media but lives his life differently. Folksy buy and hold forever value investor with midwestern values whose done some of that buy is really a stock flipper with multiple mistresses and I think even a strange daughter he's cut off. There is no greater hypocrite in the world but he's a master manipulator so I respect that.

I'm probably missing a ton. But I love guys who completely invented new things.

I do wander if I were in soros shoes 50 years ago if I could have made that kind of money. The edges in markets were huge back then. For Buffett too. Any reasonable intelligent guy with the knowledge we know today in those markets would have made a fortune.

Array
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Feb 1, 2018

good analogy on Buffet

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Feb 4, 2018

Buffet had three wives?

Apr 11, 2019

I don't understand the knock on Buffet here. Is it jealousy? That's what it sounds like.

First of all, he's been with two women in LT relationships. Who cares if they have some odd threesome relationship? Good for him.

Second, he made his fortune with long-term investing. Like everyone else in the world, his thoughts / philosophy will change. If you maintain the same approach you did in your 20s/30s into your 80s without any change, changes are you're probably screwing up somewhere. Buffet just realized that one, it was less of a hassle when you owned the business & had a trusted manager, upside was attractive, and at some point had too much capital to deploy, so he just bought businesses outright. And he transitioned from rigid definitions of value investing to more fluid ones, learning to value growth more. But his fundamental ideas have not changed, back when he started his fund to today.

He's not a hypocrite by any means. He is pretty folksy, but what, now that excludes him from having any sins? You judge him with standards that you yourself would miserably fail with, so if anyone's the hypocrite here, it's you.

Feb 1, 2018
vegan:

- Michael Robert Milken

Chrysler and Mattel were among many companies rescued from bankruptcy by Milken's junk bonds. He provided capital to more than 3,000 companies, including what are now Barnes & Noble, Time Warner, Mellon Financial, Hasbro and Calvin Klein.

Milken's "junk" helped Ted Turner create CNN.. a few weeks later Turner announced that he'd donate $1 billion to UN causes.

Yeah I have read some interesting books on Milken. I think one was Predator's Ball and other might have been James Stewart's Den of Thieves. Ivan Boesky was in the latter if I recall correctly.

But, yeah, Milken seemed impressive. He wore a lot of hats, and apparently was studying on the bus every morning at 4am. He seemed to never stop.

I wonder if the heavy hours for him led to make shady ethical decisions, or if the heavy hours were just his drive and the decisions were acceptable to him no matter what the state.

Or he just thought he wouldn't get caught ...

And then what a rebound after he got out of jail, after being banned by the industry, but creating success in the realm of prostate cancer.

This guy ..... impressive.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Feb 1, 2018

im reading predators ball now!

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Feb 1, 2018

Not too unique but I'm a big fan of Adam Smit (the "invisible" hand etc.).

Feb 1, 2018

Ivar Kreugar - The Match King (great book by the way):

Inventor of:
- Series B Shares with differential voting rights
- Convertible Debentures, payable in gold
- American Certificates - part bond, part preferred share, part equity
- Binary Foreign Exchange Options
o This one actually sunk him, the security for the options was the largest ever loan to a foreign government (German), two days before the outbreak of WWII
- Off Balance Sheet Entities
o Rationalized it at the shareholder's meeting in 1926. He said "it is only customary to consolidate the assets and liabilities of companies in such a balance sheet when a substantial majority of the outstanding shares are owned by the parent company. Where less than such a majority is owned, the shares are included as investments." - Of course it doesn't matter if the company is owned 100% by thee or more companies that you own...

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Feb 1, 2018

Thanks for sharing, I had never heard of this one. SB'd

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Feb 1, 2018

There's a famous legend, but spun by us French I'm told by wikipedia, that one of the London Rothschilds, Nathan Rothschild, from the Napoleonic era made his fortune by playing the markets exceptionally well.

In 1815, it was a lengthy process for word of the outcome of a battle to reach a country's respective capital, and many in London had no idea for what the outcome of the battle of Waterloo would be, and knew only that Wellington intended to make his stand in the small Belgian hovel. Many even held out little hope that the British and Dutch forces might be triumphant over the rejunevated French army of the Hundred days', and awaited for an outcome no different than at Quatre-bras where a week prior, the French had beaten back a stronger British force. To bypass this however, the acting Lord Rothschild of the London branch had a man on the ground, and when the British and Prussians drove back the French army, it's said that this agent dashed for London as quick as he could to announce the news only to his master.

Lord Rothschild therefore knew the outcome of the battle before anyone else in London did, and an unexpected outcome at that too. And so to give the idea that he had been informed of a defeat, and that a French invasion might come soon, he proceeeded to the Lodon stock exchange where he dumped and dumped his "consols". The whole of London's investors were swirled into a panic, and they too started selling their own, driving prices exceptionally low. Only then did Lord Rothschild start to buy again, for an extremely cheap price, and it's said he made a fortune that day rebuying all these consols.

As per wikipedia,
To the Rothschilds, [England's] chief financial agents, Waterloo brought a many million pound scoop. ... a Rothschild agent ... jumped into a boat at Ostend ... Nathan Rothschild ... let his eye fly over the lead paragraphs. A moment later he was on his way to London (beating Wellington's envoy by many hours) to tell the government that Napoleon had been crushed: but his news was not believed, because the government had just heard of the English defeat at Quatre Bras. Then he proceeded to the Stock Exchange. Another man in his position would have sunk his work into consols [bank annuities], already weak because of Quatre Bras. But this was Nathan Rothschild. He leaned against "his" pillar. He did not invest. He sold. He dumped consols. ... Consols dropped still more. "Rothschild knows," the whisper rippled through the 'Change. "Waterloo is lost." Nathan kept on selling, ... consols plummeted - until, a split second before it was too late, Nathan suddenly bought a giant parcel for a song. Moments afterwards the great news broke, to send consols soaring. We cannot guess the number of hopes and savings wiped out by this engineered panic.

And since you've broached the subject, has anybody here read Niall Ferguson's "The Ascent of Money"? Any good?

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Feb 1, 2018

I'm reading the book "The Rothschilds" right now. Insane story. At the time, They needed the European monarchs just as much as the monarchs needed a family like them. Thanks for the share, SB'd.

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

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Feb 1, 2018

Is this the one by Niall Ferguson as well?
Thanks for the recommendation!

Feb 1, 2018

pablo escobar

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Feb 4, 2018

Tywin Lannister

Feb 4, 2018

John Paul Getty Sr

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Feb 4, 2018

Siegmund Warburg

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Feb 4, 2018

Bernard Baruch, Jakob Fugger.

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Feb 4, 2018

Did you know apparently Baruch did some very important work for GS Securities but never actually worked for GS because he had the "stigma" of being associated with a brokerage house that had gone under? GS had the policy of never directly hiring talent from failed firms. Baruch was forever a consultant for GS.

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Feb 4, 2018

I don't remember that from his bio!

Best Response
Feb 4, 2018

WSO needs to come out with some financier trading cards. Guys like Felix Rohatyn would definitely be holographic.

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Feb 4, 2018

@WallStreetOasis.com Someone tag Patrick

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Feb 4, 2018

If I'm talking strictly bankers:

-Late 1800s Rothschilds: what they did with mining deals is absolutely nuts and probably the closest thing to what I'm trying to accomplish in my career.
-Andre Meyer, Michel David-Weill: Turned a French boutique into an M&A powerhouse by having balls and picking the right guys.
-Jean-Charles Naouri: By French standards this guy has had the most epic career you could possibly think of.

Feb 4, 2018

OG Lazard-Freres hell yeah.

Carl Van Loon
Van Loon & Associates

Feb 4, 2018

Dick Fould

Feb 4, 2018

House of Medici and Knights Templar. Knights Templar invented an early form of banking that contributed to the Crusades. It also had business dealings all over Europe and the Middle East, and it could be called a multinational corporation. House of Medici needs no explanation. Their financial power gave political and religious authorities to the family.

Feb 5, 2018

Myself

Feb 5, 2018

I don't really have a personal favorite, although I did meet David Einhorn once. Very nice guy.

Feb 5, 2018

lloyd blankfein!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

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Feb 5, 2018

Bruno Iksil

Feb 5, 2018
Nabooru:

Bruno Iksil

Winnnn.

But srsly people need to get over this JPM shit, it's been half the articles on Dealbook for like a week now.

Feb 5, 2018

Richard S. Fuld Jr.

Feb 5, 2018

greatest in the last 50 years? without a doubt Warren Buffett. no one has matched his record for about the same amount of time. of course his record has been slowing down with the increasing size of his company. in addition to that, his character is extraordinary. he's the third richest man in the world, yet he lives extremely modest, driving used cars, eating mcdonalds, drinking coke, and lives in a modest house he bought 50 years ago. to top it all, he's donated all of his money to charity. even millionaires lives more outlandish than he does.

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Feb 5, 2018
funkee monkee:

greatest in the last 50 years? without a doubt Warren Buffett. no one has matched his record for about the same amount of time. of course his record has been slowing down with the increasing size of his company. in addition to that, his character is extraordinary. he's the third richest man in the world, yet he lives extremely modest, driving used cars, eating mcdonalds, drinking coke, and lives in a modest house he bought 50 years ago. to top it all, he's donated all of his money to charity. even millionaires lives more outlandish than he does.

...yet avoiding taxes (charitable organizations/illiquid investments) at all costs despite his "Buffett Rule". Buffett is a billionaire and people do not become billionaires by being altruistic. Modest? Money is made to be spent, what use can you give it by hiding it in a drawer? I'm not saying people show blow their bonuses but healthy cash flow is what'll keep global economies going.

The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.

Feb 5, 2018

Jimmy Lee?

Feb 5, 2018

Bernie Madoff

Feb 5, 2018
brooksbrotha:

Bernie Madoff

Lol

Feb 5, 2018

Kweku Adoboli > Bruno Iksil

Feb 5, 2018
Banker88:

Kweku Adoboli > Bruno Iksil

FTW

Feb 5, 2018

Jamie Dimon

Feb 5, 2018

Marc Rich, by far the best commodity trader of all times.

The HBS guys have MAD SWAGGER. They frequently wear their class jackets to boston bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males.

Feb 5, 2018

jim simons

Feb 5, 2018

the rothschilds have succeeded in cramming their diseased cocks farthest up mankind's asshole, so i'd go with any one of them.

Feb 5, 2018

I don't think that there can be a greatest financier, unless you divide it into categories
VC: Jim Rogers
HF: Warren Buffet or George Soros(made a billion in a day)

The Four E's of investment
"The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

Feb 5, 2018

Jim Cramer

Feb 5, 2018
madmoney15:

Jim Cramer

ahahahahahaha YES!

Feb 5, 2018

Nick Mangold

GBS

Feb 5, 2018

The sharks from Shark Tank.

Feb 5, 2018

In all honesty, Bill Gross or David Einhorn

Apr 11, 2019

Einhorn with his garbage returns? Are you serious?

Feb 5, 2018

Soros

Feb 5, 2018

souljaboytellem

Feb 5, 2018

I wish people were a bit more serious as this is a very interesting topic. I think there are 4 categories of financiers here, which are a bit hard to compare: venture capitalists, investors/HF managers, bankers, and good old traders. So,
1) venture capitalist - John Doerr (funded Amazon, Google).
2) Investor - Warren Buffet - there are a lot of candidates here but probably each one of them looks up to WB. Simply the most impressive track record.
3) Banker - J.P. Morgan (the person)
4) Trader - I'm not very knowledgeable here, but I'd say Paul Tudor Jones or Steven Cohen.

Do what you want not what you can!

Feb 5, 2018
bossman:

I wish people were a bit more serious as this is a very interesting topic. I think there are 4 categories of financiers here, which are a bit hard to compare: venture capitalists, investors/HF managers, bankers, and good old traders. So,
1) venture capitalist - John Doerr (funded Amazon, Google).
2) Investor - Warren Buffet - there are a lot of candidates here but probably each one of them looks up to WB. Simply the most impressive track record.
3) Banker - J.P. Morgan (the person)
4) Trader - I'm not very knowledgeable here, but I'd say Paul Tudor Jones or Steven Cohen.

nice observations

Feb 5, 2018

John Meriwether, he was a badass. At least until LTCM collapsed...

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

Feb 5, 2018

Edmond Safra

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Feb 5, 2018
SynergyWeek:

Who, in your opinion, has been the greatest financier/banker of the past 50 years? With the size of the industry there are so many possible answers, I'm surprised it isn't discussed on here more often.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the late Bruce Wasserstein. Probably because most of you guys were in high school when he passed away and he doesn't have his name on any of your ATM machines...

Definitely one of the most influential bankers of the past 50 years.

In terms of non-banker financiers, I would go with Henry Kravis and George Roberts (KKR) as they fathered the PE industry as we know it today and have probably influenced more companies than Buffett will in two lifetimes.

If we move away from the traditional definition of "financier", we should include Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies for the nature of his work and possibly Bill Gross of PIMCO simply for the scale and influence of his business.

Feb 5, 2018

Gheorge Muresan

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

Feb 5, 2018

If we're counting economists and currency managers, Alan Greenspan. There was a lot of wealth that got created in the 90s, and a lot of that was because we had an intelligent Fed chief.

Feb 5, 2018

Hank Paulson and Alan Greenspan. Everyone else is playing in their world. Also, Bruce Wasserstein, but his influence stayed mostly within banking.

Feb 5, 2018

Hank Paulson

Feb 5, 2018

Past 50 years? Andre Meyer and Felix Rohatyn probably, maybe Frankie Q too as far as banking is concerned.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Feb 5, 2018

Funny that no one mentioned Milken.

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Feb 5, 2018
Jorge:

Funny that no one mentioned Milken.

Exactly, Milken or Wasserstein.

Feb 5, 2018
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Feb 5, 2018
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Do what you want not what you can!

Apr 11, 2019
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Scientist: Molecular Cancer Genetics.