The Number by Alex Berenson Book Review Essay

1108 Words Apr 11th, 2011 5 Pages
Such an intense focus has been placed on quarterly earnings as an indication of a company’s success by everyone from analysts to executives that ethics have for the most part been thrown out the window, sacrificed to the all important number, i.e. earnings per share. This is the theory in Alex Berenson’s book “The Number: How the Drive for Quarterly Earnings Corrupted Wall Street and Corporate America.” This number has become part of a game to be played, a figure to be manipulated – beat the number and Wall Street all but throws a parade, miss it and a company’s stock may be abandoned. Take into account the incentives that executives have to beat the number and one can find plenty of reasons to manage earnings.
In the first part of
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225) but laments in the afterword that in the years since the book was written nothing has changed, that investors are still unaware and blindly investing in companies in which they know nothing about beyond their reported numbers.
Having absolutely no stock market experience, I was very interested in the history that was laid out in the book, and the way that the stock market has morphed from what it started as to what it is today. “The Number” is a great primer, skillfully written, giving the average Joe background and fundamentals about the stock market to help readers begin to form their own opinions independently rather than only using Wall Street research. The footnotes of the book give great information, tips and nuggets of wisdom along the way – very similar to the way that the footnotes of financial statements can be very informative. This is a great book to use to get your feet wet on the stock market and corporations today.
The point of view that Berenson has in this book is that the market should be more heavily regulated, that regulatory agencies should crack down harder on accountants, and that prosecuting and jailing offenders is the only way to stop bad behavior. While I agree with this point of view, I also believe that it will always be an ongoing battle. The world is in constant change – people, politicians, technology, companies, etc. – and the regulatory agencies will…

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