Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book of 2012 and a Fast Company Best Business Book of 2012

What do these scenarios has in common: a professional tennis player returning a serve, a woman evaluating a first date across the table, a naval officer assessing a threat to his ship, and a comedian about to reveal a punch line? 

In this counter-intuitive and insightful work, author frank Partnoy weaves together findings from hundred of scientific studies and interviews with wide-ranging experts to craft a picture of decision-making that runs counter to our brutally fast-paced world. Even as technology exerts new pressures to speed up our lives, it turns out that the choices we make - unconsciously and consciously, in time frames varying from millisecond to years - benefit profoundly from delay. As this winning and provactive book reveals, taking control of time and slowing down our responses yield better results in almost every arena of life...even when time seems to be of the essence. 

The procrastinator in all of us will delight in Partnoy’s accounts of celebrity “delay specialists,” from Warren Buffett to Steve Kroft, underscoring the myriad ways in which delaying our reactions to everyday choices large and small—can improve the quality of our lives.

Ivar Kreuger, the infamous “Match King”, is remembered as the most colorful and compelling business personality of the roaring 1920s. From 1929 to 1932, he was the most talked-about business man in the world, for good reason. Wealthier than Morgan and as generous as Rockefeller, he miraculously survived the Great Crash, only to be found, one dark Paris morning, with a bullet through his heart. Opinions about Kreuger were deeply divided: hero or villain, innovator or fraudster, suicide or murder victim.

Kreuger was known as the “Match King” because he held monopolies on the sale of matches in many countries, but his financial empire extended to banking, construction, film, mining, paper, railways, and telephones. He was a statesman as well as a financier, and usurped Jack Morgan as the leading lender to Europe. He rescued France from bankruptcy, and nearly saved Germany. He charmed everyone, from President Hoover to Greta Garbo to the journalists who put his boyish face on the covers of Time and The Saturday Evening Post. Kreuger favored perception over reality. He believed financial statements were an art, not a science. When asked to name his three rules for success in business, Kreuger advised “silence, more silence, and still more silence.”

Unfortunately, the silence killed, and by the end Kreuger’s shares were worth just pennies. Historians, including John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., labeled Kreuger the greatest fraud in history.

Recent corporate scandals have brought our attention to the dangerously complex and unregulated financial practices of some of the world's most successful companies. Frank Partnoy, author of the riveting business bestseller F.I.A.S.C.O.: The Inside Story of Wall Street Trader, brings his impressive understanding of complex financial transactions and legal expertise to a fascinating tour of the institutions, scandals, and business cultures that brought us to this moment. In tracing the evolution of increasingly complex derivatives' use over the past fifteen years--and an appetite for risk and return that made it possible--Partnoy demonstrates that despite the media's narrow focus on Enron, it was only the tip of the iceberg. The culmination of a steady erosion of personal and institutional control, today's financial landscape is loaded with ticking time bombs with far greater potential for harm and loss than any other period in our history.

F.I.A.S.C.O. is the shocking story of one man's education in the jungles of Wall Street. As a young derivatives salesman at Morgan Stanley, Frank Partnoy learned to buy and sell billions of dollars worth of securities that were so complex many traders themselves didn't understand them. In his behind-the-scenes look at the trading floor and the offices of one of the world's top investment firms, Partnoy recounts the macho attitudes and fiercely competitive ploys of his office mates. And he takes us to the annual drunken skeet-shooting competition, FIASCO, where he and his colleagues sharpen the killer instincts they are encouraged to use against their competitors, their clients, and each other. F.I.A.S.C.O. is the first book to take on the derivatives trading industry—the most highly charged and risky sector of the stock market. More importantly, it is a blistering indictment of the largely unregulated market in derivatives and serves as a warning to unwary investors about real fiascos, which have cost billions of dollars.