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Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable Hardcover – January 20, 2010

5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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About the Author

Mark Gilbert, bureau chief for Bloomberg News in London, has been with Bloomberg News since 1991 and has written a regular column on global financial issues since 1998. He spent more than eighteen months warning about the impending credit crisis, later helping readers disentangle its consequences. He frequently appears as a commentator on Bloomberg Television.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomberg Press; 1 edition (January 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576603466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576603468
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Mark's orange-box approach to finance is always refreshing. As in his regular columns, Complicit avoids financial jargon, and shuns the usual splurge of rumour and myth. His specialty is often in spotting the obvious when everyone else has missed it, which makes the credit crisis an ideal target. But the book also carries a harsh message which is that if you allow yourself to be uniformed about something that matters, you can't then complain when it smacks you on the back of your head. In essence, we let the "bankers" turn the health of the global economy into their day spa. If we don't step up and take charge, it will happen again, and again. If you don't let someone take advantage of you, they can't take advantage of you... Mark says it's time to take charge... I'd recommend this book as compulsory reading for economics students at every level and anyone who has even a casual interest in finance and markets.
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Format: Hardcover
There aren't many people who can say they've sailed through this latest financial blip unscathed. Most of us have been impacted in some way or another. Many of us have looked for someone to blame the credit crisis on. Mark Gilbert thinks we're all to blame either by active participation or by being bystanders.

In Complicit: How greed and collusion made the credit crisis unstoppable, he explains why. The securities industry grew with leaps and bounds over the past few years and society as a whole reaped the rewards of freely available credit at super-low interest rates. The global financial authorities like the government, the banks and the money managers all looked the other way while lining their pockets.

The list of those to blame doesn't stop there. Realtors freely took advantage of the increase in home buying and appraised houses at fictitious levels. Banks and credit unions lent money to people who had no hope of paying back their mortgages. Homeowners bought properties at rates they knew they wouldn't be able to afford to repay. The average price of a U.S. single family home doubled in the period from 1989 to 2003 from $113,000 to $229,000.

In 2006, at the same time the US housing marketed rocketed, the global derivatives market grew at the fastest pace on record. The total outstanding amount grew by 40% to an amazing $415 trillion according to Gilbert. This uncheck growth could only continue as long as people kept ignorning the warning signs of a coming collapse. In 2006, some markets began to make the connection and the impact of years of risky financial decisions began to be felt.

Mark Gilbert offers an in depth explanation of how this credit crisis grew to the point where it was felt around the world.
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Format: Hardcover
Gilbert sets out the timeline and triggers for the Global Recession in an easy-to-read style that will appeal to all and is well enough explained for those outside of the City to follow easily.

None of the "I single-handedy invented the CDO market" or "I told you it was going to happen in my previous book" rubbish but an in-depth explanation from a man who was sat in the Bloomberg news room watching it all unfold.

"Complicit" has the potential to be compulsory reading for future generations wishing to try and learn from the mistakes that were made.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that covers every aspect of the financial crisis which began in 2006, look no further. This is one of those books that come along once in a while that teach you a tremendous amount and has a lot of information but is a pleasure to read. The author's style is straight forward and has an entertaining dry with to it. The thing that makes this concise book so special is the author introduces the reader to tough topics such as derivatives and credit investments and does it in such a way that anyone can understand it. I will say there were a few terms that the author defined but didn't fully explain such as CDO's and SIV's but I was able to look these up in Wikipedia to enhance my understanding. The books stay away from the politics of the credit crunch and ensuing recession. The author skillfully explains all the conditions and players leading up to the credit crunch /real estate bubble burst and recession. It's truly a comprehensive work. It does a wonderful job at showing how the entire investment market was so interrelated on a global scale, that any falling would effect everything.

Chapter 1 explains how real estate values were completely overinflated and made for an attractive investment as the stock market was stagnant at the time. It was an investing crazy with no thought to risk behind it. It further explains how banks that made mortgage loans no longer had a stake in the risks as the debts were sold off to investors therefore the bank had no further risk once they were sold off. Home owners also used their houses as ATM machines continually drawing on the equity. All the while, history teaches us what goes up must come down. All the players bet on values just going up and up.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not sure how many current economic crisis books I have reviewed. I think I am getting close to a dozen and I am currently reading "Fault Lines." I'm not sure I want to do many more crisis book reviews. Tonight's review is Complicit, by Mark Gilbert of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg columnists are typically good writers, with detailed knowledge of their subject areas, and a no-nonsense approach to writing. This book from Mark Gilbert is no different. As Joe Friday often said, "All we want are the facts, ma'am."

And for the most part, that's what you get in Complicit. It is not a long book at 173 pages, but it comprehensively chronicles the growth in leverage, and how it spread to many areas of the investment markets.

When bubbles grow, everyone is a friend. Underwriting becomes lax, limits are stretchable, FICO scores are pessimistic approximations, etc. Risk is transitory; we originate to sell. Regulators don't want to stand in the way of seeming prosperity. Nor do politicians.

Leverage gets higher in explicit and implicit ways. Credit spreads get tight as a drum. It is a virtuous cycle... until it become a vicious cycle.

In the bust, credit spreads rise, cutting off the possibility of refinancing. Then asset defaults come, and GSE and bank insolvencies.

Central banks did not view inflation broadly enough, focusing on goods price inflation, and ignoring the asset inflation that was distorting the economy. They disclaimed an ability to see, much less deal with bubbles.

The high yield market became a frenzy for yield, with CDO equity bidding for lousy bonds and default protection on lousy corporations. Debt spreads tightened to levels that indicated perfection had arrived.
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