A plug, and one illusion less on Wall Street and in Investment Banking

It is the first of January – hangover day, football day (for those of us who follow the PL) and a general day of relaxation, although this time around the first workday of the year is already desperately close. For some, it is also a day where many contemplate the stupidity of their actions the night before and/or which kind of  New Year’s resolutions beyond the "lose 20 pound" classic they should, as goal driven individuals, aspire to.

If you haven’t decided on the latter you could do worse than making it a rule to read the Epicurean Dealmaker more frequently in the year to come. To be perfectly honest, the author strikes me as a bit of a cynic; but I have persuaded myself that it is (or might be) a facade put on in order to give the blog an  edge and profile. (I might however, be awfully wrong). Like a good smoky malt it is best enjoyed slowly, with reflection and in small sips.

The EPD is intelligent and above all he is a brilliant wordsmith and as he elegantly replies to a question from a reader, this is the only yardstick you need in order to gauge which sources to read. In a world where the production of sentences, online and elsewhere, have gone beyond parabolic the following point is more than a good catchphrase, it is a survival kit (emphasis mine);

Quality matters. No matter what age, pedigree, or recommendation comes attached to a work of art, if it is lousy, I don’t read it. And neither should you. Life is too fucking short for bad writing.

Amen to that.

Now, moving on to the issue referred to in the title I like EPD’s most recent mischief on the (un)importance and essentially true colour of the annual M&A ranking table showing the volume of deals various outfits have been involved in.

Go read the whole thing, but I liked the following in particular:

The fact that these league tables are widely known to be manipulated does not dissuade the average client, either. You can argue that the fact that a bank is able to persuade big clients to give it public credit for work it has not done is a pretty good indication of decent client relationships and persuasive negotiating skills, both of which are important M&A advisory skills in their own right. And, the mere fact that i-banks so obviously scrap, struggle, and expend copious resources they could otherwise use in their main business trying to reach and stay at the top of the industry league tables month after month is reassuring to clients that the bank in question (a) has surplus resources to devote to an apparently noneconomic activity and (b) cares about its reputation. This is analogous to what naturalists would call a marker of genetic or reproductive health: the same reason peahens look for the gaudiest peacocks with the most energetic courtship dances, even though such activities and energy expenditures on the part of the male are wasteful and even dangerous from a pure survival perspective.

Finally, the EPD has enough confidence to actually post a list of his best posts in 2010 and if you are unsure whether you want to move into his little world of classic literature references, expositions on the modern world of M&A and finance as well as threats to assassinate his readers, you should start here.

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