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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk Hardcover – August 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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Interview with Satyajit Das, author of Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk

Read an interview with Satyajit Das, author of Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk
Read an interview with Satyajit Das, author of Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk.

Review

“A true insider’s devastating analysis of the financial alchemy of the last 30 years and its destructive consequences. With his intimate first-hand knowledge, Das takes a knife to global finance and financiers to reveal the inner workings without fear or favor.”

Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics

 

“Das describes the causes of the financial crisis with the insight and understanding of a financial wizard, the candor and objectivity of an impartial observer, and a wry sense of humor that reveals the folly in it all.”

Brooksley Born, Former Chairperson of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

 

“This is the best book yet to come out of the financial crisis. Das is a graceful, witty writer, with an unusually broad range of reference. He is also a long-time master of the arcana of the netherworlds of finance and nicely balances historical sweep with illuminating detail. Extreme Money is lively, scathing, and wise. ”

Charles Morris, Author of The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash

 

“Like Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Extreme Money launches you into a fascinating and disturbing alternative view of reality. But now greed predominates, the distorted world of finance is completely global, and the people making crazy decisions can ruin us all. This is an informative, entertaining, and deeply scary account of Hades’s new realm. Read it while you can. ”

Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management and Author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

 

“You know when Lewis Caroll, Max Weber, Alan Greenspan, and Sigmund Freud all appear on the same early page that you are about to read an intellectual tour de force. Das is an authoritative and colorful critic of modern markets, and here he weaves financial history and popular culture into an entertaining and blistering social critique of how so many people have come to chase endless financial reflections of the real economy. Extreme Money speaks truth to power. ”

Frank Partnoy, George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance at the University of San Diego and Author of F.I.A.S.C.O, Infectious Greed, and The Match King

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (August 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132790076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132790079
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Satyajit Das is an internationally respected expert in finance, with over 30 years' experience. He worked for the "sell side" (banks such as Citicorp Investment Bank and Merrill Lynch), the "buy side" (Treasurer of the TNT Group) and acted as a consultant advising banks, investors, corporations and central banks throughout the world. He has been within touching distance of many of the pivotal events in finance during his long career.

Das presciently anticipated many aspects of the Global Financial Crisis in his 2006 book Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives In a speech that year - The Coming Credit Crash - he argued that: "an informed analysis of the structured credit markets shows that risk is not better spread but more leveraged and (arguably) more concentrated amongst hedge funds and a small group of dealers. This does not improve the overall stability and security of the financial system but exposes it to increased risk of a "crash" during a credit downturn." He has continued to be a respected commentator on developments in the crisis, accurately anticipating many subsequent phases.

He was featured in Charles Ferguson's 2010 Oscar winning documentary Inside Job and a 2009 BBC TV documentary - Tricks with Risk.

Das is the author of many highly regarded books on derivatives and risk management, which are regarded as standard reference works for professional traders. In 2006, he published the international best seller Traders, Guns & Money, a satirical insider's account of derivatives trading. The Financial Times described it as explaining "not only the high-minded theory behind the business and its various products but the sometimes sordid reality of the industry".

His latest book is Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (2011) described by Nouriel Roubini as: "A true insider's devastating analysis of the financial alchemy of the last 30 years and its destructive consequences. With his intimate first-hand knowledge, Das takes a knife to global finance and financiers to reveal its inner workings without fear or favor."

He appears regularly in the media in the US, Canada, UK, Australian, New Zealand, India and South Africa. His opinion pieces appear in prestigious publications throughout the world including the Financial Times. His blogs can be found on a number of on-line financial sites, including www.wilmott.com, www.roubini.com, www.minyanville.com, www.eurointelligence.com, www.nakedcapitalism.com and www.prudentbear.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Igelfeld VINE VOICE on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a "tell all" book surrounding the financial disasters that most people have heard about, but only a few understand. The author provides with high energy and more metaphors than atoms in the universe the financial underpinnings that created all the financial disasters over the past five years. This includes the failure of many of the big names of finance as well as those implicated in the sub-prime mortgage diabolical. A majority financial collapses leaving investors holding the bag is outlined in this book. More importantly, the book attempts to provide the "math" or the structure of how the financial mechanisms worked to produce large virtual gains leading ultimately to literal financial bankruptcy.

The author himself is a financial advisor with over 30 years of experience. The basic thread or meta message through the book is the inability to analyze and sometimes the resistance to accept the inherent risk in the investment structures that were producing huge returns for their customer base. The book provides the culture and attitude of those working in high financing which is pivotal to understanding the reluctance to understand the long term risk of the analyzed investment mechanisms. The author is probably complicit as a financial advisor for over thirty years, but that really isn't discussed in any great detail. He provides sage wisdom after the fact, but really was not the "ethical fighter" in the battle against the balloon ready to pop (not at least in this book).

So who might want to read this book?
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Satyajit Das presents an erudite, insider's view of the world of very high finance, far removed from the every day money transactions on "Main Street." This world is as different, and as counter-intuitive, as quantum mechanics is from classical Newtonian physics. Das has "paid his dues," working on both the "buy" and "sell" side in this ethereal world for 33 years. His 2006 book Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives Revised edition (Financial Times Series) raised the specter of a "crash," due to leverage and the concentration of economic power, as opposed to the carefully promoted image of "risk management" that has been flogged by the salesmen for derivatives, including Alan Greenspan. As is well-known, the crash did come in 2008, requiring a massive government bailout as it is politely called (in actuality, it is the many who pay, and continue to owe so much to the few). The Few have survived, Masters again of the universe, and the good times (for them) roll on. Das does a fairly good job of making these whirlwind events intelligible.

Fittingly, his Prologue is entitled "Hubris." As indeed it was (and is). I was recently at a dinner in Orange Co. CA., and the consensus was the 2008 debacle was all Barney Frank's fault! Well, Das has a more nuanced, and comprehensive view. Starting with George Bush, who wanted home ownership to be as widespread as possible in America, and that meant more "affordable" products which led down a very slippery slope to a toxic asset cesspool that was somehow labeled "Triple A.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Extreme Money is Satyajit Das's account of how a culture of corruption led to the great financial and mortage collapse at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century and the ensuing financial and monetary crises. It mixes scenes depicting actors at extremes of elation and despondency with the history of events, using the purchase of works of art as markers and icons for the mood and the people.

At the book's core is a solid chronology and a lot of detail, and the book is valuable for that. But it disappointed me in a number of ways. First, the story begins with mood and atmosphere, then lurches into finance and back to atmosphere without a clear alignment between one and the other. There is no guiding structure (eg. atmosphere-event-atmosphere). Second, the level of detail is inconsistent, alternately glossing over details of financial instruments and swamping the reader in them. Often the reader is left searching for an explanation of how a financial instrument works, and how it is supposed to work. (An appendix might help here, or else a more complete introductory section on the topic.) Third, the role of government in the mess is treated quickly and forgotten. The careful reader will realize that the government not only created the mess and set up the incentives, but also punished the people who tried to stop the avalanche. The reader immersed in atmosphere will forget it in the parade of horribles of greed and irresponsibility.

Fourth, and perhaps most damning for the reader uneducated in financial matters, there is almost no description of the proper and responsible use of the financial instruments in question. What is "hedging"? When are CDOs the right instrument to use?
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