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The Big Short by Michael Lewis

The Big Short (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Michael Lewis

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2,9351251,959 (4.16)116
Title:The Big Short
Authors:Michael Lewis
Info:Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc. (2011), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:kindle, Wall Street, finance

Work details

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (2010)

Recently added byHHSingh, jakefg, jeff.maynes, private library, AndyDun, dysgeria, jalbacutler, bensdad00, gpc3000

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This is the first Michael Lewis book I've read, and I can see why he's so popular. He has a gift for the anecdotal and for building character. I wish that he was also gifted enough to clarify the financial crisis a bit--my head is still spinning trying to keep track of all the CDOs, CDSs, ISDAs, etc--but then again, if things had been clear enough for someone like me to understand, we probably wouldn't have had a crisis to begin with. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I was left feeling dirty, sad, and angry after finishing this; as anyone with a conscience would. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |

No question, this was difficult for me - as someone not a financial analyst and not understanding the complexities of Wall Street and its kin. Yes, I'd seen the movie, and now I will return to the movie to better grasp how Lewis created a narrative cogent enough for someone else to visually depict it.

Because, seriously, I had to have someone else who has both read the book and watched the movie twice help me through this book. Lewis wrote something obviously compelling to many - including the government trying to understand the crisis after the fact! - but it can be somewhat of a slog. I did my best to understand all the most important bits and pieces, but I'm not sure I will be able to tell you tomorrow what a CDO or a CDS is. This kind of fact-retention is not in my wheelhouse. If it is in yours, you will have an easier time; if not, don't work as hard as I did to understand every phrase.

Because, all told, the value of reading a Michael Lewis book is to see how deftly he makes his arguments. His style of writing is informal enough (and frankly, repetitive enough) that you will be able to repeat the main thrust of the argument in the same terms. This, in conjunction with a genius to take super-crunchy themes - his books will always be about math and statistics, I'll bet you - and make them (mostly) understandable to the layperson, is why his writing is so powerful.

With this book, we all know intimately the heartbreak this crisis called. If it didn't happen to you, it happened to someone you loved. Which is why everyone should read this - so that we can not forget the past as we move into the future. ( )
  khage | Nov 24, 2016 |
Listened to as audiobook. Hard book to listen to unless fully paying attention to the details and listening for large swaths of time.
Most interesting thing about this book were the comments made by the subjects in the epilogue about how not much has changed since the crash of 2007/2008, and that another similar occurrence is bound to happen. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Oct 4, 2016 |
50. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
reader: Jesse Boggs
published: 2010
format: 9 hr 29 min digital audiobook and 266 page hardcover
acquired: borrowed both from my library
read: listened to 87% May 5-17, read last 66 pages Aug 15-16
rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell, this about the bastards who got rich on the 2008 US subprime mortgage crash. Lewis is a really good at this stuff, so we learn to really like all these guys, as unpleasant as some of them are, and we learn to appreciate all the effort and knowledge they used to figure this market out. They made a killing, but as the collapse happened and was so big, threatening the entire banking system, one of their biggest fears was where to find a safe way to cash in.

Lewis provides an insightful analysis of what a happened in 2008, what the root causes were, how everyone missed it, and what the consequences were for the bankers. Lewis makes it fun, but it's sad. Every key player got rich, even the ones who misread everything and lost billions for their companies. They all walked away with millions, leaving their companies in disastrous shape, the US tax payer stuck with the bill, and, of course, all those given impossible loans without their homes.

I can't say it's the best book on the subject, as it's the only one I've read, but it's entertaining and worth a read. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Aug 21, 2016 |
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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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lewis, Michaelmain 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.

(summary from another edition)

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3 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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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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