The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
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The #1 New York Times bestseller: "It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it's essential reading."—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair
The real story of the crash began 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.
Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar's Poker. Out of a 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 time.
Reasonable analysis, entertainingly written
This book presents a more or less chronological account of the financial meltdown from the perspective of the few financial outsiders who had the brains to see it coming and short the market. The writing is energetic and witty, though those with an aversion to lots of f-bombs will be turned off by the coarse nature of the prose in some sections. The explanations of credit default swaps and synthetic CDOs were a bit dense, and would have really benefitted from a picture or two, but the descriptions were good enough to give an intelligent reader a good picture of the scam. What also comes across clearly is the remarkable stupidity of most of the industry and particularly the ratings and regulatory agencies.
The author avoids moralizing, but the book would benefit from a bit more discussion of the systemic issues. Too much time is spent on the physical descriptions and personal lives of a few of the players when the real story is the financial drama they were a part of. The final chapter with an interview with the former head of Soloman Bros. was a disappointing foray into the author's history rather than the hard-hitting conclusion it could have been.
Still, for an entertaining, fast-paced read that gives you a look at the corrupt brainlessness that led to the financial meltdown and hurt a lot of people, this is a solid work.
This is a must read. Particularly if you are still wondering what happened. How did we get to where we are today. No one is spared here. Each character shows a passionate greed in this book. Even the heroes. It displays a definite slime factor. I still wonder; what kind of people can do this type of stuff? And who started telling the ratings agencies to pass these devastating piles of garbage to customers? If the events in this book are even .001 percent true, they are still shocking.
This is the book I imagined back in November of 2008 I would be reading just about now (August 2010), and that would finally be able to explain from a distance what the HELL had just happened, and what it would mean going forward.
Well, I did read it. And it was as terrifying as it was a riveting read. Highly recommended.
- Category: Economics
- Published: Feb 01, 2011
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Seller: W. W. Norton
- Print Length: 320 Pages
- Language: English