No One Would Listen : A True Financial Thriller, Hardback Book

No One Would Listen : A True Financial Thriller Hardback

3.5 out of 5 (8 ratings)


Harry Markopolos and his team of financial sleuths discuss first-hand how they cracked the Madoff Ponzi scheme No One Would Listen is the thrilling story of how the Harry Markopolos, a little-known number cruncher from a Boston equity derivatives firm, and his investigative team uncovered Bernie Madoff's scam years before it made headlines, and how they desperately tried to warn the government, the industry, and the financial press.

Page by page, Markopolos details his pursuit of the greatest financial criminal in history, and reveals the massive fraud, governmental incompetence, and criminal collusion that has changed thousands of lives forever-as well as the world's financial system. The only book to tell the story of Madoff's scam and the SEC's failings by those who saw both first hand Describes how Madoff was enabled by investors and fiduciaries alike Discusses how the SEC missed the red flags raised by Markopolos Despite repeated written and verbal warnings to the SEC by Harry Markopolos, Bernie Madoff was allowed to continue his operations. No One Would Listen paints a vivid portrait of Markopolos and his determined team of financial sleuths, and what impact Madoff's scam will have on financial markets and regulation for decades to come.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Personal finance
  • ISBN: 9780470553732

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Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.

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Review by

An interesting book in which a group of financial derivatives specialists centred around Harry Markopolos stumbled in the fact that the Madoff company must be falsifying performance data on their investment fund.Markopolos raised a series of red flags in a detailed 2005 submission to the S.E.C. (Securities and Exchange Commission) strongly suggesting that Madoff Securities was a Ponzi scheme, and continued to visit and make submissions to them until all it would have required on their part would have been a few telephone calls and half an hour on a Bloomberg terminal. However, they resolutely refused to investigate while investors lost a further $40 billion because the SEC staff of lawyers and recent graduates lacked the experience or training to investigate financial crime.A few institutional investors did complete due diligence on Madoff and decided not to place money with him. Caveat Emptor.

Review by

Cassandra was a beautiful Trojan princess who Apollo blessed with powers of clairvoyance but, when she rebuffed him, he cursed her by ensuring no-one would believe anything she said. Thus, her admonitions about the fall of Troy (it may have been she who warned "beware of Greeks bearing gifts") fell on deaf ears and, as Wikipedia beautifully puts it, her "combination of deep understanding and powerlessness exemplify the tragic condition of humankind". I dare say Harry Markopolos, the Boston quant who repeatedly alerted authorities to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme for almost a decade before it finally fire-balled, knows how Cassandra felt. This is his recounting of his whole grisly story. At that level, this is a fascinating account of a genuinely Greek tragedy - irony intended - which contains exactly the elements of Cassandra's tale (except, perhaps, the unbearable beauty: the author's publicity photos capture an ungainly, if not altogether unlikely, figure doing his best to look resolute and loyal in front of the Stars and Stripes). Harry Markopolos was possessed not just of vague discomforts that, after the event, a know-it-all windbag might use to claim fore-knowledge: quite to the contrary, he identified, in gruesome and glaring detail, that Bernie Madoff was necessarily running a Ponzi scheme, precisely why, precisely how, helpfully suggested some precise and simple measures by which an investigating authority could cheaply verify his allegations (as simple as "ask to see his transaction confirmations"), and he sent this, in writing, to the Securities and Exchange Commission about five times over the course of a decade. That is remarkable enough a story, and Mr. Markopolos deserves your money to tell his story for that service alone. While we might shake our heads in wonder at how this could happen, we also might harbour some suspicions: Markopolos was from an unfashionable firm based in unfashionable Boston under the jurisdiction of the unfashionable Boston branch of the SEC; he seems an unfashionable chap prone to unfashionable conspiracy theory: none of this can have helped his credibility. But neither that nor the fact that the SEC is understaffed, underskilled and over-populated with financially illiterate lawyers (all certainly true) comes close to explaining why Markopolos' warnings were systematically ignored. If you read Markopolos' submission to the SEC from 2005, which is appended to the text, you will recognise that one didn't need to be an expert on split-strike conversion strategies to understand something must have been dreadfully wrong with Madoff's operation. Yet while these shortcomings are not good answers, they are the best Markopolos can offer (and, in from position, can be expected to offer). For all the studied outrage he marshals (if ever there were a dictionary definition of "studied outrage" this is it) throughout this entertaining and readable book, Markopolos seems satisfied this is just a case of good, old-fashioned, thorough incompetence. The system itself is conceptually ok; it's just some significant parts of it (such as the SEC) happened not to be fit for purpose. Hire a few more financially literate analysts, and fire a few lawyers, and all will be well. That doesn't sound like a plausible answer to me. Anomalies, in the sense depicted in scientific literature, are fleeting imbalances; momentary disruptions in the established order of things which are gone so quickly so as to not be reliably measurable, and thus incapable of falsifying existing orthodoxy. Anomalies are the sort of things that are characterised by platitudes such as "stuff happens" or "the exception that proves the rule". A fifteen-year, 50 billion dollar fraud involving one of the most respected men in the industry, publicly trailed by magazine articles and a privately prosecuted by the concerted, detailed, and relentless efforts of a small group of professionals is no such anomaly. It simply isn't credible to put this down to an unfortunate confluence of improbable human errors. The collective failure to see Madoff for what he was feels like a symptom of something much wider and more fundamental. That feeling is augmented by other recent "anomalies": Nick Leeson; Long Term Capital Management; Enron; Amaranth; the Dot-Com bust; Jerome Kerviel; Lehman; AIG. By and large these anomalies went on, in full public view, for years. Are these really anomalies? That, in the vernacular, is the elephant in the room. In focussing on the minutiae of the Madoff investigation - and you can't really blame Markopolos for doing that; it's what he knows - "No-one Would Listen" doesn't ask, let alone answer, that important question: what is it structurally, systemically, even sociologically about our financial system that can allow these "anomalies" to happen for more than an instant? That they can recur suggests strongly that we have a paradigm in crisis; that something about our set of assumptions and parameters; something really fundamental about the way we we currently, collectively look at the financial world, is utterly misconceived. The book that identifies this error, sure to be a ground shaker, is yet to be written. This one simply entertains. Markopolos is particularly scathing of the SEC. Its astoundingly poorly judged appearance before Congress, in which its general counsel attempted to plead executive immunity - from having to testify before a branch of the executive - must be seen to be believed (and can be, on YouTube). Yet underlying the solid good sense and analysis lurks a grandstanding conspiracy theorist and this does undermine his credibility to some extent. Markopolos repeatedly mentions checking beneath his car for explosives, the risk he took from organised crime and terrorist cells who might have invested in Madoff (none has been reported, and while I guess you wouldn't expect it, it still doesn't make Markopolos' allegation justified). That said, this book is worth your time and money to read, if nothing else as a salutary lesson.

Review by

Bernie Madoff has gone down in the history as the man behind the world's largest known Ponzi scheme. When his scheme collapsed following the market crisis of 2008, hundreds of investors lost their savings with the total loss estimated at being in excess of $50 billion. The truly shocking part of this story is that this terrible loss could have been mitigated - if the Securities Exchange Commission had heeded the warnings of Harry Markopolos. In the years preceding the collapse, Markopolos had filed no fewer than 5 complaints against Madoff, all of which had been lost or ignored by the SEC watchdog. It is tragic to read of Markopolos' repeated efforts to bring this to the attention of the authorities and the mind boggles at how all these red flags could have been ignored.Markopolos does tell an intriguing and well-written story. However, I must admit that it is rare to read a book where I've actively disliked the author. Markopolos has a strong character (stubbornness is especially obvious) and I can see how individuals in authority might have taken a dislike to this man. But when fraud on such a massive scale is being alleged, personal likes and dislikes should not come into the picture.Markopolos' revelations led to him testifying in front of government and has triggered a review of staffing and procedures at the SEC. His work has led to significant change and it cannot be underestimated. Read this story and marvel at a tale of ineptitude and dedication.

Review by

Good first person account by the quant who identified Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme in 1999 and his attempts to get the SEC to act. He exposes the SEC as an ineffective watchdog agency that had it acted in shutting Madoff down in 1999 could have prevented at least the $43 billion that was invested between 1999 and 2008 when Madoff turned himself in.

Review by

An engrossing read by the guy who discovered Madoff back in 1999 and for whom he became a ten year obsession.

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