The Number is a history of the financial and stock markets over the past two centuries. It delves into many of the great crashes the markets have endured in that time including the individuals, laws, instruments, bubbles and outcomes. What I liked about this was it provides the reader with a chronological history of how the financial markets have been developed, the laws that have been enacted and how both aspects have shaped over the many decades. Furthermore it demonstrates how greedy we are as human beings. Many examples like WorldCom, Computer Associates and Arthur Andersen show the propensity we have in being devious with the aim of rewarding ourselves.
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. Accountants are the plumbers of capitalism, unappreciated but vital to the system.
2. Any company with a high price-earnings ratio can cause its earnings to rise simply by buying another company whose stock is cheaper than its own.
3. Stocks have a century-long record of strong performance at the beginning of the year when investors inject their Christmas bonuses into the market and look for stocks knocked down by year-end selling. In hell, on the other hand, the calendar always reads October.