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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's to Blame?
Robert Kolb's The Financial Crisis of Our Time is an ideal book if you're looking for an objective, balanced explanation of what caused the near collapse of the financial markets starting in 2008. If you watched in horror as the value of your investments dwindled and sought for someone to blame, Kolb's book gives you an extensive cast of characters to pursue. Our...
Published on January 31, 2011 by bookster

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ignores the elephant in the Room
Other reviewers have talked about the technical details of the meltdown--all critically important to an understanding--and Kolb does a better job, as a general subject, than any other writer I have read and he should be lauded for it. But his absolute insistence on not bringing politics into the story is a huge failing of the book. No, it is not possible to draw a line...
Published 9 months ago by zaytox


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's to Blame?, January 31, 2011
This review is from: The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis) (Hardcover)
Robert Kolb's The Financial Crisis of Our Time is an ideal book if you're looking for an objective, balanced explanation of what caused the near collapse of the financial markets starting in 2008. If you watched in horror as the value of your investments dwindled and sought for someone to blame, Kolb's book gives you an extensive cast of characters to pursue. Our financial system is based on a web of complicated inter-relationships. Kolb shows that nearly all of the major players in this web were to greater or lesser extents at fault. He does an excellent job of probing the motivation of the people making decisions, many of which now seem totally illogical and even contrary to the decision-makers' own best interests. For example, after reading The Big Short, I wondered why anyone in their right mind would have bought a lower-level tranch in a CMO (collateralized mortgage obligation). Having now read The Financial Crisis of Our Time, I know why.

The causes of the financial crisis are complicated and varied. Kolb identifies six: (1) macroeconomic developments and federal policy, (2) the failure of regulatory agencies, (3) mortgage seekers and mortgage lenders, (4) the mortgage securitization process, (5) innovation in financial instruments, and (6) executive compensation and poor corporate governance. In addition to providing solid background about how the financial crisis came about, Kolb examines each of these causes in detail. Kolb writes clearly and with flair. If you are looking for a serious yet highly engaging explanation of the financial crisis in terms you can understand, this is a book for you
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and balanced story of the crisis, March 9, 2011
By 
Don M. Chance (Baton Rouge, LA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis) (Hardcover)
This is an extremely well-researched and excellently-written synthesis of the hundreds of articles and several books on the crisis. The author identifies seven primary causes: federal housing policy, extremely low interest rates, the high consumption and low savings rates of consumers, inadequate regulation, failures in the mortgage creation and distribution process, financial innovation and ineffective risk management, and poor corporate governance and incentive structure in the financial industry. Regardless of which of these you feel is the primary cause, Kolb explores all of them equally and gives you an in-depth treatment. While there are other books out there and that blatantly biased government report, you cannot do better in educating yourself about this crisis than in reading this book. The author has no agenda other than to inform the reader. Read it and be informed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts "Inside Job" to shame, June 26, 2011
This review is from: The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis) (Hardcover)
I just watched the film "Inside Job." Kolb's book is a perfect next step for those who found the film far too simplistic to have any serious claim to be an explanation of our financial system or what went wrong with it in the fall of 2008. The film successfully embarrasses a few folks who ought to be embarrassed, but is it not also embarrassing to take an issue of urgent national importance and turn it into a simple story of a few very bad guys and many, many good guys (who are also apparently clueless and defenseless)?

As the other reviewers have also stressed, Kolb's book combines the virtues of being a gripping read while also being faithful to the complexity of the issues involved. As the crisis had multiple and complex causes, which Kolb lays out clearly and persuasively, so - alas! - it will lack a single and simple solution. To express one consequence of this point in the negative, when calling for "regulation" as the solution, we must acknowledge that there were many regulations before the crisis, ones that simply failed to function as they were intended.

Kolb's patient discussion of the many challenges of designing a sound financial system often reminded me of the Founders' acute awareness of the challenges of designing a Constitution. Perhaps the most general of these challenges is traceable back to the nature of man himself. As Madison put it, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." Like the Founders, Kolb is careful not to let moral anger cloud his vision, and the result is a book that will be worth reading and rereading for a long time to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Storm, March 13, 2011
This review is from: The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis) (Hardcover)
I generally read fiction and, although, until recently, I worked in an area of law that dealt with finance, I am not a financial expert. But like most of my fellow Americans, I was interested in learning what an expert would say about the causes of the recent worldwide financial crisis. This book lays it out, methodically and logically but in an interesting, accessible style. It starts with the Depression and goes on from there. It discusses the governmental policies that encouraged the making of loans to borrowers of questionable creditworthiness. It dissects the financial models that were used. Most interestingly, it explains how, at each step, these financial models gave the lenders, and those associated with them, a personal motivation for making unsound loans. The conclusion is chilling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner!, March 10, 2011
This review is from: The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis) (Hardcover)
Robert Kolb has written an exciting, comprehensive account of the recent financial crisis that is easily understandable for even the layperson. The book reads like a mystery, making it difficult to put down. Dr. Kolb manages to infuse humor and irony into a technical subject that could otherwise have been presented in a dry and tedious manner. Thank you, Dr. Kolb, for providing such an insightful account of a financial event that affected all of us.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ignores the elephant in the Room, February 2, 2014
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Other reviewers have talked about the technical details of the meltdown--all critically important to an understanding--and Kolb does a better job, as a general subject, than any other writer I have read and he should be lauded for it. But his absolute insistence on not bringing politics into the story is a huge failing of the book. No, it is not possible to draw a line in the argument and say that "Republicans did it" or "Democrats did it" but to ignore the political aspects entirely is simply a matter of writing poor history and poorer historical analysis.

Kolb clearly writes from a rightist perspective from the standpoint that he takes government to task to a far greater degree than he takes business to task. He suggests that what was/is not needed is more regulation, but the proper execution of existing regulations and oversight duties as provided by existing laws. I don't think it is being non-objective to point out that at the time the SEC run by GW Bush appointees whose primary job was to NOT do any regulating. That's what Republicans of the Bush Cheney stripe "did" (witness Katrina, just as another example). So to not make a distinction between the regulatory agency (SEC) performance under past presidents and performance under the administration in office at the time of the meltdown is partisan, nonobjective, and poor history. We simply cannot escape the political nature of this discussion and have a complete understanding of it. That's one Truth Kolb does reveal, albeit by omission.
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The Financial Crisis of Our Time (Financial Management Association Survey and Synthesis)
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