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As the global financial crisis unfolds people everywhere are seeking to understand how markets devolved to this perilous, volatile state. In this dazzling and meticulously researched work of financial history, first published in 2003, and now thoroughly revised and updated, law professor and financial expert Frank Partnoy tells the story of how “classical” Wall Street securities like stocks and bonds were quietly eclipsed by ever more “quantum” products like derivatives. He documents how, starting in the mid-1980s, each new level of financial risk and complexity obscured the sickness of corporate America, and how Wall Street’s evlving paradigm moved farther and farther beyond the understanding-and regulation-of ordinary investors and government overseers, leading inevitably to disaster.

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