Praise for The Asylum: Inside the Rise and Ruin of the Global Oil Market

“A riveting tale of greed gone mad. Goodman nails the culture… A great ride
for market fans.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

“The Asylum is an inside look at how an underdog crew of uneducated, street-smart New York traders brawled and yelled, drank and drugged their way to control of the world’s oil markets. With eye opening and entertaining first-hand accounts of life on the floor of the Nymex, Goodman explains why global catastrophes are nothing more than money-making opportunities for a small handful of traders. Newspapers report that the latest global catastrophe is pushing oil prices into the stratosphere, but Goodman and the residents of The Asylum know better…”


“Finance journalist Goodman traces Nymex’s transformation into a colossus
with a stranglehold on the sale of the world’s energy. Goodman explores the
lurid culture of Nymex traders, scruffy hustlers who shriek, swear and bring
guns, drugs, and hookers right into the trading pit. One of the year’s most
colorful business histories.”

Publishers Weekly

“Welcome to a bet-on-anything, testosterone-drenched world…written with
tremendous verve and insight.”

Institutional Investor

“Goodman wrote about Nymex for The Wall Street Journal before expanding
her knowledge into a book…The inside look at a mostly closed institution is
enlightening. Goodman’s details about the infighting within the oil market’s
membership are astounding, mainly because the members don’t seem to
realize they are destroying their path to wealth.”


“A seriously informative and amusing look into the oil trading pits.”

Huffington Post

“An expose by a Wall Street journalist, this book reveals the story behind America’s oil addiction. Leah McGrath Goodman gives an unbelievable account of a group of traders who merrily jacked up oil prices to nearly $150 a barrel, while profiting off the misery of the working class…A must-read in the wake of the recent unrest.”

– Businessworld

“A well-spiced account of the lifestyle of oil traders.”

The Spectator

“Traders are crude, says The Asylum…And yet this band of outsiders had more control than OPEC and the large Houston energy firms.”

New York Post

“Goodman recounts in her new oral history, The Asylum, [the energy market’s] evolution from a ragtag bunch of potato traders to oil market king-makers, driven in part by astute leadership, greed and sheer blind luck.”

– The Global Journal

“Goodman alternately describes the colorful characters, pranks, questionable
trading practices and outright greed that made up the former potato
exchange…The colorful and sometimes mind-boggling anecdotes could have
been reason enough to write the book. But they were mainly the sideshow.”


“While Nymex traders got away with stunning monkeyshines — from nearly every form of insider trading ever known to making markets on Quaaludes and New Jersey cheese steaks — at least on paper, their exchange was subject to regulation, which did lead to the occasional slap on the wrist…But in nearly all stories about crude these days, the problem is not really too many speculators. It’s not enough oil supply.”

Transition Voice

“Leah McGrath Goodman presents an inside look at the sometimes dysfunctional world of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The former Wall Street Journal reporter examines the actions of a cast of real life characters who manipulated commodities markets by trading on insider tips from friends on the floor of the exchange.”


“In a compelling book by Leah McGrath Goodman, The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World’s Oil Market,the author lays out the ugly fact that often — in fact, more often as not — the price of oil is set not in Vienna at the headquarters of OPEC, but in downtown Manhattan at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Tens of thousands of future contracts are traded in nanoseconds at the NYMEX, and the price of oil is set. This price affects not only the price that will be paid when these contracts expire and delivery takes place, but also, according to Goodman, the all-important over-the-counter market, where sellers trade more directly with buyers without government oversight.”


“In the tradition of Too Big to Fail and Liar’s Poker, author Leah McGrath Goodman tells the amazing-but-true story of a band of struggling, hardscrabble traders who, after enduring decades of scorn from New York’s stuffy financial establishment, overcame more than a century of failure, infighting, and brinksmanship to build the world’s reigning oil empire – entirely by accident.”


“Goodman reveals a rough-and-tumble group with little formal education, who
dress down, answer to no one, and are tougher than marines. Activities at
the exchange are rife with cheating and overindulgence in drugs, prostitutes,
and illegal gambling. Biting and infuriating, with even a ‘Deep Throat’ in the


“Leah, we both know what it means to speak truth. It is a courageous thing and a brave thing and a bold thing. Know it is an offering, a gift to step up and look within to change and transform ourselves – and this world.”

– Nicole Buffett, granddaughter of Warren Buffett

“The Asylum examines the lurid culture of Nymex traders and even documents how some of those traders brought drugs, guns and hookers right into the Nymex trading pit. Goodman’s book ultimately concludes that the price of oil is determined less by OPEC and more by a few hundred speculators who are exempted from regulation by means of several loopholes.”


“A history of the famous (and infamous) oil-futures marketplace, the Nymex. This is a rollicking, fast-paced, decades-long tale of a marketplace that sprang out of — no kidding — a potato futures market. The pit where most trading took place is still active in New York City, but in just the past few years much of it has moved online, and is handled by computers able to rapidly process reams of data (note that this move hasn’t yielded more stable prices in fact one could argue the opposite case). The reporter, who worked for many years as a Dow Jones reporter covering the market, has many solid relationships with the traders who built the Nymex and this adds a lot of color to the narrative. When the instability of supply and relentless demand drives up price levels and volatility, many of these traders do very well indeed. And when that happens, the partying really kicks into high gear.”

– National Resources Defense Council

“As Goodman tells it, the insatiable egoism of the new breed of traders that took to the floors after the 80’s aped that of capitalist leviathans such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. The democratic aspirations of the free market economy gave way to the cabals of capitalist oligarchs. Traders became the co-conspirators of financial tyrants. Schemers and scoundrels sacrificed the American Dream and bequeathed to the world a Global Economic Nightmare.”

Rogue Philosopher

“Who controls global oil prices? Powerful banks? Massive hedge funds? Big Oil? OPEC? There’s never been a straight answer to that question until now.”

– Denver Business Journal

“Goodman describes Nymex traders collectively as lucky, sex-crazed (and in some cases, drug-dealing) beneficiaries of a market heaped upon them. They used to do potatoes, but there was enough chicanery to get that quashed, and whoever looked forward to a life trading potatoes anyway?…Like already-super-rich baseball players who claim they want to play for a champion or in their hometown, but somehow usually just pick whichever offer is tops financially, human beings are hooked on something, and it’s not so much oil and drugs.”

– CNBCfix

“In the complex world of the energy markets where pit trading is a blue-collar profession, Goodman captures the grit and spirit of the floor and the personalities in the board room…her depiction of the players and the place to rings true.”

– Reuters

Author, Historian and Investigative Journalist