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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine…

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010)

by Michael Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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One of the best of the Michael Lewis books and the most entertaining of the books describing the recent financial crash. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 25, 2016 |
"From the social point of view the slow and possibly fraudulent unraveling of a multi-trillion-dollar U.S. bond market was a catastrophe. From the hedge fund trading point of view it was the opportunity of a lifetime" (p. 167).

This statement could easily serve as the blurb for Michael Lewis's The Big Short, which provides an interesting portrait of a few of the investors who predicted and profited from the collapse of the subprime mortgage bond market. The quirky characters and simple explanations of complex financial issues made this book worth reading for me. However there were some definite weaknesses.

The organization of the book was weak and there was a lot of repetition. It seemed to me that Lewis was explaining the same topics over and over again with only slight changes to the descriptions and analogies. Maybe this repetition was meant to reinforce his explanations of concepts such as "credit default swaps" and "double-A tranches of a subprime-backed collateralized debt obligation." Or maybe there wasn't much repetition, and I just wasn't picking up on the distinctions between the different topics?

Also, the narrative never fully came alive for me. Lewis did a great job building up the characters. The details about their lives, behavior, and quirks were really great. The direct quotations he included from his interviews with them were also wonderful--very colorful. Yet after he builds up these characters they never seem to really do anything. It felt like a lot of anecdote and very little action, snapshots rather than a movie. Maybe the spiraling, repetitive structure of the books is to blame for this, too.

Having read the book, I'm not any more outraged than I already was. It is a little annoying, though, that the disaster was obvious enough for a handful of hedge funds to bet against it, but not obvious enough to be prevented. ( )
  AlaynaFisher | Apr 23, 2016 |
Mind numbing the greed and corruption that was apparent and it was not just bankers involved in the upheaval. How about those that bet on the disaster happening to make a killing because no one was listening that something was not adding up. Good start to understanding what caused the financial crisis.

( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
This should have been mandatory reading for every member of Congress who voted for the bailouts. Talk about raising your blood-pressure; this book made me mad.

On the flip-side, Lewis weaves a gripping, against-all-odds tale about three men who saw the big financial crash coming, and who did something profitable about it.

One more reason to read this: every wonder what a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is? Read this now to find out. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Great look at the inside working of the 2007 financial crisis. Investment banks and bond traders gone wild and the interesting characters that traded in billions of dollars. A litte too involved in the workings of CDOs etc but that is what the book was about. It leaves an unsettling feeling with bankers and politicians in bed w each other. ( )
  JBreedlove | Mar 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Thinking about the subprime crisis with the benefit of da Vinci’s distance, it struck me anew how Darwinian and predatory the whole system is. One constantly has to ask, Cui Bono: “Who benefits?” And Ubi Est Mea: “Where’s mine?” One of Eisman’s traders was constantly obsessed with how the party on the other side might screw him (though “screw” was not the word used). That is probably a good attitude to have on Wall Street.
By focusing so precisely on the particular, Lewis makes the objects of his scrutiny stand for the whole of the financial world: its obscurantism, under-regulation and wildly short-termist institutional profiteering; the bank bosses’ reluctance to scrutinise the mechanics and risks of their most profitable divisions; and the general refusal to understand the connection between the profits made and the dangerous actuality they were based on: in this case, the deliberately over-complicated financial “instruments” and the poor Americans who were about to default on their mortgages.
In his new book, Lewis is neither obnoxious nor charming. The skies have fallen. The market Wall Street created in the housing debt of the very poorest Americans, so-called "sub-prime" mortgage bonds and various derivative securities, which fell to bits in 2007 and all but engulfed the world in 2008, is the greatest financial fraud since the 18th century. Men and women who once made us laugh now make us shudder. In other words, The Big Short is not half the fun of Liar's Poker, but it is more important.
added by mikeg2 | editThe guardian, James Buchan (Mar 27, 2010)
Lewis is a gifted chronicler and debunker and demystifier of the world of finance.
added by r.orrison | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Mar 18, 2010)
No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis, the author of “Liar’s Poker,” that now classic portrait of 1980s Wall Street. His entertaining new book does not attempt a macro view of the financial crisis, but instead proposes to open a small window on the calamities by recounting the stories of some savvy renegades who cashed in on their conviction that the system was rotten.

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Michael Lewisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boggs, JesseReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea about them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.  -  Leo Tolstoy
For Michael Kinsley, To Whom I Still Owe an Article
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How can a guy who can't speak English lie? - Greg Lippmann
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393072231, Hardcover)

The #1 New York Times bestseller: a brilliant account—character-rich and darkly humorous—of how the U.S. economy was driven over the cliff.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The author examines the causes of the U.S. stock market crash of 2008 and its relation to overpriced real estate, bad mortgages, shareholder demand for excessive profits, and the growth of toxic derivatives.

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393072231, 0393338827

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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