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Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Gross
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The financial crisis that has gripped this country since last September has had so many twists and turns, it would make for a great drama -- if it all were not so real and damaging. Companies are shutting down and laying off workers, 401ks are melting away, and the government is spending $700 billion dollars to bail out banks and financial institutions -- and that's only the beginning. The financial services industry, and the many industries that depend on it -- from housing to cars -- is in intensive care.

So what happened? How did we get to this point of financial disaster? Is the economy just a huge, Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme? It is a complicated and confusing story -- but Daniel Gross of Newsweek has a special gift for making complicated matters easy to understand and even entertaining. In Dumb Money, he offers a guide to the debacle and to what the future may hold. This is not so much a book about who did what, though that's part of the story. Rather, it pieces together the building blocks of the debt-fueled economy, and distills the theory and personalities behind our late, lamented easy money culture. Dumb Money is a book that finally lays it all out in an engaging way, and might just help people invest their money smartly until the gloom passes.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Gross is a journalist, author, and editor who specializes in business history, political economy, and the money culture. He writes the ?Moneybox? column for and contributes to the ?Economic View? column of the New York Times. He has worked as a reporter at The New Republic and has contributed to more than 60 publications. Since 1999, he has edited STERNbusiness, the semi-annual management journal published by New York University's Stern School of Business. Gross has appeared on CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPAN, and on more than 35 radio programs, including NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross (no relation). In 2001, he was a fellow at the New America Foundation.

He is the author of three books: Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Times; Bull Run: Wall Street, the Democrats, and the New Politics of Personal Finance; and Generations of Corning: 150 Years in the Life of a Global Corporation, 1851-2001, co-authored with Davis Dyer.

A graduate of Cornell University, Gross holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 297 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 18, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,075 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Current Events March 6, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition
Mr. Gross has given us a clear, non-technical account of our current financial crisis, credit lockdown and recession. It makes for lively reading as well, since many of the key players of this account are allowed to characterize themselves in their own words (quoted mostly in context). Mr. Gross falls just short of self-righteous indignation by reminding himself and us of the parts we played in enabling the players. There are enough facts and figures to refute the idea that somehow the people who did not make money were to blame for the excesses into which the money-makers were enticed. I do have two complaints about the story. First, there is a lack of discussion of the involvement of international credit markets connected with international trade - what I believe were the "canary in the mineshaft" - that dragged down central banks once counterparty trust was lost. Secondly, I accuse Mr. Gross of copping out in his concluding chapter. Following such a story of legal, ethical, and moral drama, I would expect the author to give us an account of the lessons he learned, and lessons we might carry away. However, he was gun-shy, and said as much, about making "predictions" about future events. The reader will have to write his or her own conclusions. For me, it was the old virtues of honesty, thriftiness and hard work. You cannot write a credit default swap on those. Other people will have other lessons.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To the Point May 25, 2009
Gross has managed to write one of the most clearly stated, precise and condensed versions of the origins and nature of the current economic crisis currently on the market.

Gross is not interested in finding a ideologically motivated one-stop-shopping-style guilty party ("It's Clinton's fault!"). Instead, he concentrates on the mechanics of how things got to the point they are at now - and in a way easily accessible to the layperson, without sacrificing accuracy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Entertaining - November 16, 2009
Recently I read a Newsweek column by Daniel Gross documenting that U.S. private employment today is less than in 2000, despite population having grown 9%. That bit of basic insight led me to read his "Dumb Money" about how the Ownership Society quickly degenerated into the Bailout Nation during the same time period. The book is short (101 paperback-sized pages), interesting (even entertaining), yet comprehensive, covering all the decade's financial 'stars' - Ben Bernanke - keeping interest rates low, continuing Greenspan's rosy forecasts), Christopher Cox (ineffectual SEC head), Alan Greenspan (keeping interest rates too low for too long, lobbying for deregulation, blindly following philosopher Ayn Rand instead of economic data and theorists), Edward Lambert (acquired K-Mart and Sears early in the decade, then spent $4.9 billion to buy back shares at an average $118 - now $70), Richard Fuld (named a #1 CEO by Institutional Investor magazine in 2006, received a $22 million bonus in 2007, and then watched the 28,000+ firm Lehman Brothers collapse in a market-terrorizing bankruptcy in 2008), Angelo Mozilo (making mortgages available to almost everyone in his pursuit of #1 market share), Henry Paulson (a latecomer to the crisis, he then created a bailout for the institutions that created the crisis), Robert Rubin (lobbyist for deregulation, Citibank board member while sailed into a major government rescue), John Thain (CEO NYSE from 2004-2007, paid $83,785,021 in 2007 - mostly by his not-yet employer Merrill Lynch, requested a $10 million 2008 bonus for 'saving' Merrill by selling it to Bank of America for $28 billion + $20 billion in government money, spent $1. Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Not Baloney, it's just the facts (ma'am) November 22, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very basic explanation of what caused the collapse of the financial system. Basic. The intent was not to provide all the financial rationale or details of what happened. The intent is to give a broad based overview of what caused the collapse. To completely understand it all in detail you would have to first be very experienced in this field and/or very financially literate (which most are not), and you would need to read tome after tome on the subject. But, if you have said, "Could someone just explain what happened?" then this is the book for you. It's not a class on economics or an in depth analysis of the psychology behind it all, or a textbook with citations and footnotes. This guy is just trying to explain to you "what happened." I believe that was his goal and I believe he achieved it successfully.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mechanics of the meltdown February 7, 2010
Hindsight is always 20-20 and everything is always so obvious after the fact. Daniel Gross offers a concise view at the mechanics of the financial meltdown, which points out the root problems, how they developed, and the mania that ensued. Refreshingly, the author does not carry any political biases and instead focuses on the facts. If you're looking for a short and approachable summary of the meltdown, then this is it.

On the other hand, what makes this book so good as a summary, is also its weakness in the broader context of financial & market policy moving forward - I would be careful about drawing generalized conclusions based on the analysis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I threw it away. Political hack job
Published 9 months ago by Lou
Daniel Gross (born 1967) is an American journalist who is editor of global finance for the Daily Beast/Newsweek, and was formerly Senior Editor at Newsweek. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Steven H Propp
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but far from being the best book on the subject
In this quick, little book, author and journalist Daniel Gross looks at the financial crisis of 2008+. Read more
Published on December 25, 2012 by Kurt A. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars We should have listened to Shakespeare: "Neither a Borrower Nor a...
This book is a really great starting place to begin to understand the financial cataclysm of 2008 that was so large that there don't even exist adjectives to span its enormity -... Read more
Published on January 21, 2012 by GirlScoutDad
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational
This is a small book, and relatively easy reading (in a physical sense). Somewhat disturbing in an intellectual sense, but of course that's part of its purpose. Read more
Published on January 20, 2012 by John E. Michals
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and damning
I have taken extra interest in being wiped out by the wealthy since hedge funds were able to borrow easy money to bet on things that go up, down, and sideways in free markets. Read more
Published on September 18, 2010 by Bruce P. Barten
5.0 out of 5 stars Good rant on the financial crisis
I've read other books by Daniel Gross, and he was ahead of the herd calling housing a bubble while everyone else thought housing would go up forever. Read more
Published on May 6, 2010 by J Sung
3.0 out of 5 stars Breezy but superficial look at the ongoing financial crisis
"Dumb Money" is an easy-to-read account of how greed, ignorance, and wishful thinking combined to produce the great economic bubble of 2004-2007 and how it all fell apart in 2008. Read more
Published on September 2, 2009 by David F. Nolan
3.0 out of 5 stars A short description and the main Lesson Learned: It will happen again
No table of contents. No index. A rush job to the printer. But it could be just right for you if you are looking for a condensed version of this historic financial disaster. Read more
Published on June 6, 2009 by andris virsnieks
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for MBA students
After seeing the author speak a few weeks ago, I am enjoying this deeper dive into his topic of passion. It presents a three-pronged analysis that is neither silly nor pretentious. Read more
Published on June 3, 2009 by stevemerrill
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