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Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America Paperback – September 13, 2011


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Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America + Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the FinancialSystem--and Themselves + When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307717879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307717870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Eminently readable and convincing...There's great value to be gained in the detail that Farrell reveals." —Salon
 
"An exhaustive reconstruction of how Merrill Lynch & Co. sealed its own fate by
becoming more bullish on bonuses than on America."James Pressley, Bloomberg
                                                                                                                        
"Farrell weaves his facts into a story...piling detail upon detail to sketch the inner
workings of Merrill Lynch, which he calls the Wall Street firm that made it possible for
average Americans to reap handsome returns in the stock market." —USA Today
 
"The...financial crisis's answer to Game Change--John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's
tattle-filled bestseller about the 2008 Presidential election--Farrell shows that... seemingly trivial matters became the obsessions of Wall Street executives as the subprime contagion spread." —BusinessWeek
 
“Immaculately reported…Farrell has found one of the biggest untold stories of the [financial crisis] drama.” —Financial Times
 
“Farrell tells a story based on hundreds of hours of interviews that builds like a hurricane.” —Forbes.com


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

GREG FARRELL is a correspondent for the Financial Times. In January 2009, he broke the news that Merrill Lynch had paid out its 2008 bonuses a month ahead of schedule, in December, even though Merrill was in the process of losing $28 billion for the year, and Bank of America needed an extra $20 billion in taxpayer funds to complete its acquisition of the firm. That story sparked an investigation by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo. Greg is a past winner of the American Business Press’s Jesse Neal Award for investigative reporting and a recipient of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship for business journalism. He earned a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well written.
Sailaway
The story would be unbelievable if it work fiction, yet it happened.
Russell Kyncl
This is a well written portrait of how Merrill Lynch collapse.
Gerald Swimmer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By William Dahl VINE VOICE on December 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An absolutely magnificent story.

It's a tough position for another book on the U.S. financial crisis to be released on November 2, 2010 (Crown Business NY, NY) --- if you have read as many great books about the crisis this year as I have.

Don't be fooled. Don't let the 454 pages of this volume dissuade you from considering this magnificent story from Greg Farrell (correspondent for the Financial Times - BA Harvard and MBA from Columbia).

What Crash of the Titans is, in my opinion, is evidence of simply phenomenal storytelling, supported by a depth and breadth of investigative journalism that is both unique and unparalleled. Farrell is a pro - truly a master story teller. The 454 pages flew by based upon the prowess of Farrell's ability to keep the reader engaged on a page-turning journey. His character development is amazing. The tension, innuendo and intrigue are simply fantastic and lend to the credibility of this work as a truly unique, non-fiction financial thriller for 2010.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I worked at both NationsBank and BofA during my career as a regional manager of a commercial lending group (during the years when BofA was acquired by NB and adopted the Bank of America brand). I was with NB at the time of the acquisition and stayed on for several years thereafter with the BofA logo on my business card. Farrell's ability to capture the "culture clash" that occurred during this merger was uncanny - spot on target.

This book is, in my opinion, an eminently fair characterization of the story and the people. Frankly, John Thain did his best - and his performance could not likely be outperformed by comparably capable Wall Street executives who may have been thrust into the situation Mr. Thain was.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By GratefulFed on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book doesn't try to explain the definition of a CDO or how the housing bubble built, popped, etc like every other book on the crisis does

This book assumes you have read a few other books on the crisis & have the basic knowledge of the housing market Boom & Bust and how it happened and what caused it... so if you are looking for an Introductory Book on the 2007 crisis there are lots of others that would be much better

However, if you want to know what went into some of the behind the scenes decisions that brought Merrill Lynch to the brink on non-existence and the factors that lead Bank of America to pay such a huge price for a company that was imploding... this book is great. Goes into the background and personalities of Stan O'Neal, Ken Lewis, John Thain and the other major players and gives a good picture of what each person did to result in the 2008 Merger

Plenty of books have been written on the crisis, What caused it, who is to blame etc. But all of those Books focus on Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs... and the Merrill/BAC merger is only mentioned in passing. This is the first book I have read that focused on the crisis from Merrill's perspective
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By DOPPLEGANGER on November 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Until the many recent revelations on the causes of our financial institutions almost total capitulation when faced with difficult trading conditions, many, including myself, held those running these businesses in great respect bordering on awe, believing them to be superior to most other mortals. This conviction was reinforced by the fact that they were paid large basic salaries, were given huge annual bonuses almost as a matter of course, had pension funds of unimaginative magnitude, and were beneficiaries of a multitude of perks from chauffeured limousines, almost limitless expenses through to personal use of corporate aircraft. If these people were not outstanding business leaders surely the supposedly 'wise' members of the Remuneration Committees of these companies would not be irresponsible enough to rewards them so extravagantly?

Wrong. It is quite evident from this outstanding book on the last desperate efforts of Merrill Lynch to avoid the ignominy of 'going down the tube' and the ill-conceived and clumsy efforts of The Bank of America when buying what was considered to be a 'trophy purchase' without exercising much care and due diligence, at a price that was at a considerable premium over its real value, that the senior executives of both companies were 'thrashing' around in the dark, displaying all the signs of 'lemming' management and not living up to the level of expertise that they were being paid for.

Greg Farrell's account of these manic times is excellent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Swimmer on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written portrait of how Merrill Lynch collapse. There are many explanations but the one that stands out in reading this is how it is possible for a CEO not to know where the increased earnings are coming from. The total failure of risk management is remarkable. It shows that O'Neil was so blinded by growing Merrill and his own bonus that he did not pay attention.

Thane came in to try to save the company he seemed to lack the ability to see what was happening. It all becomes a tragic story. One wonders if there is not a need for a separate disclosure statement by the chief risk officer of a firm certifying the bonuses of all senior employees before a board approves bonuses.

I worked in a large corporation for many years and I was impressed how real the dialogue was. I could hear the players speaking in the same manner.

The last point is how poorly Bank of America was managed. I was amazed.
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Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America
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