Individual investors hold the pros on Wall Street in high esteem.  The people who work in the financial markets must be smart and serious. That’s where all of the graduates from the top schools end up. The big money draws the biggest brains and discipline.  That’s why the “Wolf of Wall Street” seemed so outlandish. Sure, those guys working the pump and dump outfits might have drank and drugged themselves blind, but not those working at the big name firms.

Nobel Prize winner Eugene Fama tells us the markets are efficient, that all information is known by all market participants and all participants perceive the information the same.  Surely those working in the markets act with clear heads and sound judgement at all times.

But to read a book like John LeFevre’s “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion Dollar Deals” it’s a wonder any securities get bought or sold at all. LeFevre doesn’t back off from his story one bit in his elevator interview with Lauren Lyster.

He told Lyster, “I would say there is not a single bond salesman in Asia at any bank who hasn’t bought drugs or girls for their clients.” There are plenty of these goings on in Straight to Hell, and if you’re offended by Donald Trump’s language toward women, the author’s calling prostitutes “love monkeys” and his girlfriend “the warden” will keep you constantly annoyed.

LeFevre starts his career and book in London and the practical jokes and extracurricular activities are pretty lame. The reader must press on to Asia, where the real boom-time fun begins.

He doesn’t leave the guys alone, by the way. Writing about a trip to a spa and hopping into a hot tub for an “executive workout” the author urges Asian dudes to manscape, “it would look bigger.” About a certain Brit, he writes, “Each day, at the first meeting after lunch, he’ll spend the entire hour aggressively picking at his teeth with a toothpick, which is clearly not at the advice of a dentist; he’s never seen one.”

He says the antics depicted by brokers in “The Wolf of Wall Street” were “community college rejects that went out to Long Island, committed crimes and partied like rockstars. The experiences that I had in my career were about the best and brightest, the Ivy League graduates who work at Citi and Goldman Sachs.”

The pedigrees may be different but the behavior and disdain for customers seem no different. Needing a wingman when he was outnumbered by Hong Kong Disneyland’s cast of Sleeping Beauty in a bar late on a Sunday night he texted a friend to come out, even though “he should be probably falling asleep reading Barron’s. When I remind him of this fact he laughs it off. ‘Sheeeit, ain’t my money, nigga.’”

His tales of what are known as road shows are especially evocative. After all, on a road show, investment bankers are supposed to be selling securities to sophisticated investors and presumably would make sure they are sharp for multiple presentations the each day. In the author’s case that meant, “I generally try to work my way back to the hotel for a civilized nightcap before 3 A.M.”

He makes the observation during these nightcaps, “I don’t think there is anything in this world quite as brazenly entrepreneurial as a prostitute soliciting me in the corridor of a hotel, just as she’s leaving some guy’s room and I’m staggering toward mine.”

A few hours later at 9 A.M. the first road show meeting starts and last one doesn’t end until 6 P.M. What’s instructive about the author’s road show tales is his admission investment bankers knowingly over-promise what they can deliver for pricing (in LeFevre’s case, interest rates) figuring the client will settle for anything after many grueling days on the road selling their business prospects, and most importantly their need for the money.

This was exactly my road show experience as Wall Street bankers said one thing until we’d made presentations in a couple cities and then they made noises about “changing market conditions” and even told us the assistants to the assistant analysts we were trying so hard to impress didn’t think our jokes were funny.  In LeFevre’s tale, “we’d just blame ‘adverse market conditions’ or imply that the company’s performance on the roadshow is not instilling sufficient confidence in the minds of investors.”

Of course there is plenty of big bank collusion on deal pricing and the “Chinese Wall” between corporate-advisory area and the brokering department is paper thin to non-existent.  But those mundane legal details are few and far between allowing plenty of time for stories about waking up in strange places and unknown bedfellows.

The author devotes a chapter to one such instance when he’s unsure how he made it home (he lives in a hotel) and who he’s with. It turns out she requires payment for services rendered and threatens to call hotel security.  Willing to oblige, but unable to find any cash, LeFevre, empties the minibar to make payment.  Presumably this kind of creative thinking is the reason he made the big bucks.

In his review of LeFevre’s book for The Wall Street Journal, Philip Delves Broughton, mentions love monkey bowling, and depending on your point of view, it’s a funny story for sure. But it’s the paragraph setting the scene that displays the author’s writing chops. “The place is heaving with disgusting, degenerate white men ranging in age from backpacking teenagers to Liverpudlian pensioners who’ve chosen to wind down their mediocre existence on this planet living in nihilistic self-indulgence and relative comfort, instead of in some miserable British council estate. Of course, it’s also swarming with love monkeys, all 9s and 10s by Makati standards.”

On a recent episode of HBO’s Ballers, Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) explains to Mr. Anderson (Richard Schiff) that NFL football players party so hard with drugs and girls because they play a dangerous sport and need to blow off steam.  Just as much testosterone is racing through those working in the risky world of financial products and the need to let loose must be just as great.

In his epilogue LeFevre writes, “Most of the people mentioned in his book have moved on to more senior positions at the biggest and most prestigious firms in the world.” You (and your investments) can sleep well knowing markets are efficient and those that participate in them have all information and act soundly with that knowledge.