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Bailout Nation, with New Post-Crisis Update: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy Paperback – June 15, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470596325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470596326
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Best books to make sense of financial crisis of 2009" (USA Today)

"Best business books of 2009" (Miami Herald)

"Investment Book of the Year" (Stock Trader’s Almanac)

"Succeeds in laying out all that transpired in easy-to-understand language. If you want to know how we got into this mess and what might still be coming, this is the book for you." (Wall Street Journal)

"The author writes with the fury of an insider mortified by the behavior of his heretical peers . . . There is much to be said for the book’s irreverence. Mr. Ritholtz has written an important book about a complicated subject, and yet you could still read it at the beach. Here’s hoping that some policy makers in Washington take it with them on vacation this month." (New York Times)

"Ritholtz makes a valuable new contribution to our understanding of how we arrived at this sorry juncture. He’s smart, sassy and often amusing. If you’re looking for an all-in-one place explanation of what went wrong and why, this is the book for you (or your confused neighbor)." (Bloomberg)

"Bailout Nation’s straightforward, compelling account puts the crisis in context, explains why the US government responded so stupidly, offers solutions, and advises how to prevent a repeat. Ritholtz’s indictment of the financial and political establishment is devastatingly accurate." (Asia Times)

"Before the housing and credit bubbles popped, Barry Ritholtz, a lawyer turned blogger and money manager, was one of the voices crying in the wilderness. His caustic (and occasionally profane) blog, The Big Picture, dissected macroeconomic news and relentlessly cut through spin. His book takes a long view of the roots of the economic crisis, tracing the history of a series of ever more expensive taxpayer-funded bailouts of failed industries." (Newsweek)

"Ritholtz’s book seeks to explain how the United States, once so proud, became "a nanny state for well-paid bankers. Ritholtz may be just the right person to explain the transition to both the disillusioned amateur and the finance junkie. He doesn’t pull his punches or bury the truth in layers of finance-speak, caveats, and disclaimers. Since he began blogging seven years ago, in-the-know readers of his popular blog, The Big Picture, have turned to Ritholtz for his prescient, refreshingly honest commentary on the economy. Anyone interested in understanding the roots of our current crisis should check out the book.." (Freakonomics)

"A comprehensive crisis scrapbook compiled by the money manager behind the popular financial blog the Big Picture in a quippy, no-nonsense voice..." (New York Magazine)

"These are some of the provocative and even dangerous questions that Barry Ritholtz takes on in Bailout Nation…Above all, Bailout Nation is about the socialization of risk and the privatization of profits." (Forbes) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

"Do you find yourself wondering: How did we get here? How did the United States of America get into such a predicament whereby in one year, 2008, the financial system nearly vaporized, the stock market crashed, real estate tanked, and major corporations were being bailed out. . . .How did our great country, a bastion of capitalism, devolve into a Bailout Nation where the gains were privatized, but the losses were socialized?"
From the Foreword by Bill Fleckenstein

In Bailout Nation, Barry Ritholtz, author of the popular finance blog, deftly mixes financial history with an insider's knowledge of modern finance to reveal how we've arrived at one of the worst economic crises ever. Engaging and informative, this book clearly shows how years of trying to control the economy with easy money has finally caught up with the United States and how the government's practice of repeatedly rescuing Wall Street—as well as other industries and organizations—has come back to bite them.

Divided into five compelling parts, this timely guide opens with a brief history of bailouts, detailing their particular patterns and unintended consequences. From here, it quickly moves on to reveal the events, individuals, and institutions that have shaped our current situation. You'll see how various government interventions—in individual companies such as Lockheed during the 1970s, in specific sectors such as banking in the early 1990s, and eventually, entire markets with the rescue of stocks in 2000—opened up a Pandora's Box. You'll also discover how the misguided philosophies of many players, from Fed Chairmen and Presidents to Senators and Treasury Secretaries, promoted the massive meltdown that has engulfed our global economy.

Ritholtz leaves no stone unturned, as he breaks down how the Federal Reserve's interest-rate targeting policies as well as a condition known as moral hazard—the belief that you won't bear the full consequences of your actions—perpetuated the reckless financial risk taking that has pushed us to the brink. Ritholtz also takes some of the biggest Wall Street firms—along with their enablers, the ratings agencies—to task. Page by page, you'll learn how the repeal of certain regulations allowed banks to merge into unruly financial behemoths, while unproven investment vehicles, including collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and credit default swaps (CDSs), wreaked havoc on both the credit and housing markets.

The United States has abandoned its capitalist roots and become a Bailout Nation. The implications of this are significant and far-reaching. If you intend on navigating today's treacherous terrain, it would be wise to understand how we got here and what you need to get ahead. Scathing, but fair, Bailout Nation puts this financial debacle in perspective—through discussions of past miscues and an exploration of solutions being proposed-and offers a voice of reason during these uncertain economic times.  --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The book is highly entertaining, easy and quick to read.
Joao Cortez
Around the time this book was due (~Labor Day 2008), something was in the air . . . you could smell the leading edge of the approaching storm.
Barry Ritholtz
If you're going to read just one book on this subject, make it this one.
W. Blair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

303 of 322 people found the following review helpful By Barry Ritholtz on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Review

Long story short: After Bill Fleckenstein's GREENSPAN'S BUBBLES: THE AGE OF IGNORANCE AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE McGraw Hill asked him to do a follow up to that book. He (wisely) said no.

However, Bill suggested they contact me.

Which the publisher did. I turned them down (several times). Who had time to write a book? Besides, I did not want to do a fast rush-to-judgment type of thing. But they were tenacious in their pursuit, and I eventually succumbed to their flattery -- but on my terms, including having final edit on the manuscript. (This becomes important later on, as you will soon see).

Because of the way events played out, I ended up writing three separate Bailout Nation books over the next 15 months. The first version was a history of bailouts. This overview covered an arc from Lockheed (1971) to Bear Stearns (March 2008). Around the time this book was due (~Labor Day 2008), something was in the air . . . you could smell the leading edge of the approaching storm. I convinced the publisher to hold off a few weeks.

Boom! Fannie Mae blew up. Then Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America. Soon Merrill was on the ropes, followed by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, GM and GE. All hell was breaking loose. Well, I thought, at least I had an ending. The expanded version of the manuscript, with greater emphasis on the latter part of 2008, was finished in December '08.

Or so I thought.

After I handed the book into the publisher (McGraw Hill), they let me know they had problems with my assessment of the Ratings Agencies.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Alex Zhilyakov on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mr Ritholtz does an excellent job drawing a trendline from the first bailout in 70's to the latest bailouts of 2009. He illustrates how our own government cheer-led us into the Next Great Depression.

What makes this book different from books of other numerous authors?

* The book is written in a plain language an average person can understand
* The book is well-structured and sticks to historical events which led us into the mess
* For all government bailouts, Mr Ritholtz brings focus to their long-term effects rather than short-term ones
* Mr Ritholtz does not try to predict future or give investment advice (thank you)
* Illustrations are hilariously funny

I enjoyed every page, it is very well worth time and money.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By R. Bohrer on June 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has been said that 'if you can't explain something in simple terms that anyone can understand, you don't understand it well enough yourself.' From the standpoint of that axiom, it is clear that Barry Ritholtz understands well the causes of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. In plain terms, Ritholtz explains not only what directly led to the Crisis, but the events of the last 30 years which laid the groundwork of moral hazard which allowed the Crisis to occur as it did. Indeed, the events of the last two years were the result of a confluence of things gone wrong, and all sides of the political aisle are culpable, which Ritholtz makes clear in Bailout Nation.

If you are looking for a clear, concise, bias-free explanation in layman's terms of the Financial Crisis and, most importantly, the myriad events which led up to it, then you should read this book. Actually, I think that EVERYONE should read this book, because if the warnings implicit in the book are not heeded very soon, the US will find itself in a situation that will be impossible to recover from intact. Indeed, we may already be there...
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By George Roman on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a long-time reader (addict?) of The Big Picture and bought this book when it first came out. Unfortunately (time constraints being what they are) I only had a chance to read it this summer and time to review it now.

I'll start with a brief chapter summary of the book (paraphrasing).

[Chpt 0] Revised Edition. Six bogus principles: 1) Efficient Market; 2) Self-interest prevents recklessness; 3) Markets can self-regulate; 4) Deregulation is always good; 5) Consumers are rational; 6) Compensation is properly aligned. These must be discarded.

Areas we must reform: Campaign finance; Derivatives; Repeal 2004 leverage exemption; Encourage shorting; Remove bank regulation from the Fed; Create a single regulator; Restore Glass-Steagall; Break up "too big to fails"; Hold senior management responsible; Regulate non-bank lenders; Allow full clawbacks; Overturn federal preemption; Educate consumers; Allow SEC whistle-blowers.

[Chpt 1] Intro: $14T mess, lots of bailouts after Lockheed.

[Chpt 2] Need for a single currency. Establishment of Fed and growth of Fed power.

[Chpt 3] (1860 - 1942) Early history of US growth. Govt funds infrastructure projects. Consumers choose winners and losers. Current market crash not as bad as Great Depression. History of home ownership programs (HOLC). Bailout versus Rescue. Timeline of New Deal programs.

[Chpt 4] (1971 - 1995) Corporate welfare is born: Lockheed! Amtrak! Chrysler! Nixon takes US off gold standard, dollar's value falls through the floor. Lesson 1: Short-term pain avoidance yields major long-term future pain. Lesson 2: The organizations that hate the free market the most are large, well-established corporations.

[Chpt 5] (1987 - 1995) Stock Market Bailouts.
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