Synopses & Reviews
Previously published as The Trillion Dollar Meltdown
Now fully updated with the latest financial developments, this is the bestselling book that briefly and brilliantly explains how we got into the economic mess that is the Credit Crunch. With the housing markets unravelling daily and distress signals flying throughout the rest of the economy, there is little doubt that we are facing a fierce recession. In crisp, gripping prose, Charles R. Morris shows how got into this mess. He explains the arcane financial instruments, the chicanery, the policy misjudgments, the dogmas, and the delusions that created the greatest credit bubble in world history. Paul Volcker slew the inflation dragon in the early 1980s, and set the stage for the high performance economy of the 1980s and 1990s. But Wall Street's prosperity soon tilted into gross excess. The astronomical leverage at major banks and their hedge fund and private equity clients led to massive disruption in global markets. A quarter century of free-market zealotry that extolled asset stripping, abusive lending, and hedge fund secrecy will go down in flames with it. Continued denial and concealment could cause the crisis to stretch out for years, but financial and government leaders are still downplaying the problem. The required restructuring will be at least as painful as the very difficult period of 1979-1983. The Two Trillion-Dollar Meltdown, updated to include the latest financial developments, is indispensable to understanding how the world economy has been put on the brink.
“New York Times Notable Book of the Year”
"[The Trillion Dollar Meltdown] is an absolutely excellent narrative of the horror that we have in the credit markets right now.... It's a wonderful explanation of how it happened and why it's so rotten, and why it will take a long time to unwind."—Paul Steiger, former Mng Editor, Wall Street Journal
"However up to date it may seem, this book is no rush job. Morris deftly joins the dots between the Keynesian liberalism of the 1960s, the crippling stagflation of the 1970s and the free-market experimentation of the 1980s and 1990s, before entering the world of ultra-cheap money and financial innovation gone mad... [Morris's] provocative book is...a well-aimed opening shot in a debate that will only grow louder in coming months."—Economist, March 6, 2008
"Will provide some important background that will help decipher the meaning behind today's gloomy financial headlines. For those who wonder "Why?", here's a place to get some answers!"—Watsonville (CA) Register-Pajaronian, March 13, 2008
"Charles Morris, author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown, isn't one for sugarcoating. His analysis is dour and grim, but certainly not dull. And when read against a backdrop of an ever-weaker economy, increasingly anxious economists and a stream of gloomy predictions, it can be downright scary....Morris serves up a sharp, thought-provoking historical wrap-up of the U.S. economy and its markets, along with clear scrutiny of today's economic woes."—USA Today, March 31, 2008
"[A] shrewd primer... [Morris] writes with tight clarity and blistering pace."—James Pressley, Bloomberg News
"Morris offers a persuasive diagnosis of the long-building credit crash.... An especially graceful writer, Mr. Morris accessibly explains Wall Street's arcane instruments.... This is a smart layperson's guide."—The New York Times, April 6, 2008
“In his brief but brilliant book, Morris describes how we got into the mess we are in…. Few writers are as good as Morris at making financial arcana understandable and even fascinating.”—New York Times Book Review, April 20, 2008
“The Trillion Dollar Meltdown' by Charles R. Morris and Bad Money' by Kevin Phillips avoid the wild predictions of mass economic destruction, instead giving thoughtful, if alarming, histories and analyses of how we got into the mess we're in today.”—Bloomberg News
“My favorite single book account [of the subprime crisis].”—Business & Economics Correspondent Adam Davidson, NPR.org Planet Money podcast, September 16, 2008
“[A] masterful and sobering book.”—Commonweal, September 12, 2008
“…a primer.”—Jim Pressley, Bloomberg.com, #1 book on the financial meltdown, September 19, 2008
“Charles R. Morris’s THE TRILLION DOLLAR MELTDOWN (PublicAffairs) was handed to the publisher last Thanksgiving, a fact that gives Morris, a former banker, rock-solid status as a predictor of the crash. He homes in on the complexity and the paradoxical unpredictability of these financial instruments, which were supposed to manage risk and ended up magnifying it...”—The New Yorker
“Charles Morris’ informed and unusual book, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown, provides a decisive rebuttal to all…excuse-making and blame of ‘government.’ Morris makes clear that it was an unquenchable thirst for easy profits that led commercial and investment banks in the US and around the world….Morris has described the intricacies of the American investment world as clearly as anyone.”—Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books, February 12, 2009
“If you don't know a lot about this current financial crisis, this is a great way to get some of the major contributors, including the role of mortgage-based securities, very quickly and simply. It's a short book; it's a well-argued book.”—Wall Street Journal, financial experts Laura Tyson and Angela Chan, 4/7
We are living in the most reckless financial environment in recent history. Arcane credit derivative bets are now well into the tens of trillions. According to Charles R. Morris, the astronomical leverage at investment banks and their hedge fund and private equity clients virtually guarantees massive disruption in global markets. The crash, when it comes, will have no firebreaks. A quarter century of free-market zealotry that extolled asset stripping, abusive lending, and hedge fund secrecy will come crashing down with it.
The Trillion Dollar Meltdown explains how we got here, and what is about to happen. After the crash our priorities will be quite different. But things are likely to get worse before they better. Whether you are an active investor, a homeowner, or a contributor to your 401(k) plan, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown will be indispensable to understanding the gross excess that has put the world economy on the brink--and what the new landscape will look like.
A New York Times bestseller on the financial crisisnow updated to address the current economic landscape
About the Author
Charles R. Morris has written eleven books, most recently The Tycoons, a Barrons Best Book of 2005. A lawyer and former banker, Mr. Morriss articles and reviews have appeared in many publications including The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.