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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machineby Michael Lewis
The roots of the bubble and the story of Wall Street's collapse can be told no clearer — nor with as much humor — as by Michael Lewis. If you read only one book that explains the current economic crisis, make it The Big Short.
Lewis describes the causes of the financial crisis with clarity, while putting it all in a very human context by focusing on a few of the individuals involved. It would have been easy for Lewis to second guess — in retrospect, it seems crazy to have expected house values to rise forever — but he reminds us how truly difficult it was at the time to foresee the conditions where a collapse was possible and how few people actually did predict it.
Synopses & Reviews
When the crash of the U. S. stock market became public knowledge in the fall of 2008, it was already old news. The real crash, the silent crash, had taken place over the previous year, in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine, and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower — and middle-class Americans who can't pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren't talking. The crucial question is this: Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages?
Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 best-selling Liar's Poker. Who got it right? he asks. Who saw the real estate market for the black hole it would become, and eventually made billions of dollars from that perception? And what qualities of character made those few persist when their peers and colleagues dismissed them as Chicken Littles? Out of this handful of unlikely-really unlikely-heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.
"Although Lewis is perhaps best known for his sports-related nonfiction (including The Blind Side), his first book was the autobiographical Liar's Poker, in which he chronicled his disillusionment as a young gun on Wall Street in the 'greed is good' 1980s. He returns to his financial roots to excavate the crisis of 2007 — 2008, employing his trademark technique of casting a microcosmic lens on the personal histories of several Wall Street outsiders who were betting against the grain — to shed light on the macrocosmic tale of greed and fear. Although Lewis reads the book's introduction, narration duties are assumed by Jesse Boggs, a veteran narrator of business titles (including Lewis's own 2008 book Panic!). Boggs's rich baritone is well suited to the task and trips lightly through a maze of financial jargon (CDOs, derivatives, mid-prime lending) and a dizzying cast of characters. Lewis returns on the final disc for a 10-minute interview about the crisis's aftermath, including a savvy assessment of the wisdom of the financial bailout and where-are-they-now updates on the book's various heroes and villains. A Norton hardcover. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it's essential reading." Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair
"Superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance. . . . Lewis achieves what I previously imagined impossible: He makes subprime sexy all over again." Salon.com
"[A] strikingly original take that offers an enhanced understanding of the debacle....Since his first book, Liar's Poker, Lewis has tackled big, engaging stories...by finding and developing characters whose personal narratives reveal a larger truth. He's done it again." The New York Times Book Review
"No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis....[he] does a nimble job of using his subjects' stories to explicate the greed, idiocies and hypocrisies of a system notably lacking in grown-up supervision....Writing in faintly Tom Wolfe-ian prose, Mr. Lewis does a colorful job of introducing the lay reader to the Darwinian world of the bond market." The New York Times
"I recommend everyone within the sound of my voice to read [this] book." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
"I’ve joined a lot of other people in just finishing Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short, and it’s really an eye-opener of what was going on at the time that this real estate bubble was created." Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Book News Annotation:
The housing bubble and the 2008 crash of the U.S. stock market has been the topic of choice for a growing number of authors and pundits. But non-fiction author and financial writer Lewis shines his singularly insightful and frequently humorous light on questions like "Who knew?" and "Who got it right?" While the unprincipled villains who raked in vast amounts of money are certainly present and accounted for, Lewis also finds the heroes of the story, as unlikely as they may be. It's fresh, smart, informed writing. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this brilliant account of how the U.S. economy has been driven over the cliff, the author of the bestseller Liar's Poker explains how the free fall of the American economy occurred and who, exactly, is to blame.
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Who better than the author of the signature bestseller Liar's Poker to explain how the event we were told was impossible — the free fall of the American economy — finally occurred; how the things that we wanted, like ridiculously easy money and greatly expanded home ownership, were vehicles for that crash; and how shareholder demand for profit forced investment executives to eat the forbidden fruit of toxic derivatives.
Michael Lewis's splendid cast of characters includes villains, a few heroes, and a lot of people who look very, very foolish: high government officials, including the watchdogs; heads of major investment banks (some overlap here with previous category); perhaps even the face in your mirror. In this trenchant, raucous, irresistible narrative, Lewis writes of the goats and of the few who saw what the emperor was wearing, and gives them, most memorably, what they deserve. He proves yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.
About the Author
Michael Lewis, the author of Liar's Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.
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