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Other People's Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made Paperback – March 25, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142180718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142180716
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Other People's Money:

“The reader interested in New York real estate history, its moneyed elites, or even the self-contradictory aspects of social investment should find ample material for reflection and enjoyment in Bagli’s account.”
Publishers Weekly

“Bagli's sourcing is impressive, and readers will welcome his ability to make arcane investment dealings comprehensible.” —Kirkus

Other People’s Money delivers one of the great untold stories of the financial crisis—how greed, arrogance, and the distorted incentives of the commercial real estate market helped drive our nation’s economy off a cliff. Told through meticulous reporting of what was arguably the worst real estate deal of all time, in this vitally important book Bagli demonstrates how the well-heeled and well-connected walked away relatively unscathed from the wreckage that they created, leaving a devastated middle class holding the bag yet again.”
—Neil Barofsky, New York Times bestselling author of Bailout: How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

“Charles Bagli does for the politics and economics of urban real estate finance what Jane Jacobs did for urban street life. Bagli’s new book, Other People’s Money, uses the sale of a major housing complex on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, to demonstrate how contemporary real estate speculators deploy international finance and local politics to change the housing options of more ordinary city dwellers. Bagli, a talented journalist, makes the street-level impacts of abstract global finance easily understood.”
—Elliott Sclar, professor of urban planning, Columbia University

 “Other People’s Money is a terrific book. With remarkable textual clarity and a fine-tuned dramatic sensibility, Charles Bagli has recreated the extraordinarily high stakes poker game that was the largest real estate deal in U.S. history. His characters include the biggest real estate players on the planet as well as middle-class residents desperately holding on by their fingertips to the only housing they can afford. A truly epic tale, one that systematically demonstrates the logic (and illogic) of the real estate bubble that set the stage for worldwide recession and that reveals the wild, unforgiving nature of twenty-first-century capitalism. It’s a powerful story and a great read.”
—Rick Fantasia, coauthor of Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement and professor of sociology at Smith College

About the Author

Charles V. Bagli lives with his wife in New Jersey.

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Customer Reviews

Mr. Bagli, continue your terrific reporting.
Batya L.
The book contains a few typos and repeats entire paragraphs at times.
Samuel J. Sharp
Well written, informative, and full of information!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By MT57 on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Three or four years ago, I read a brief mention in the New York Times that CalPERS had lost about $500 million investing in the Stuyvesant Town deal in New York City. I remember thinking at the time, what the f is CalPERS doing putting that much money into New York real estate? Wouldn't California public employees and taxpayers, the people CalPERS acts for, be better served by investing in California? I still don't have a good answer to the second question, but now I do to the first.

Last month I came across this book in a bookstore and realized that its author was the same who had written that Times story. So I picked it up.

As I've said in other reviews, there are two types of books about the financial crisis, the journalistic and the academic. (I'm ignoring the nuts). Journalists tell a story, focusing on key characters, and usually press a simple theme or maybe two. Academics review a lot of data and match it to selected hypotheses with lots of citations to academic papers. This is one of the journalistic approaches obviously.

The author apparently covers the NYC real estate beat for the Times, so knows many key developers personally and they appear to have cooperated with on the record interviews. They or others appear to have given him lots of financial information about the deal and the asset, both pre and post acquisition. So it appears authoritative from that side of things.

He also tells the tenants' side of the story through two or three tenant association leaders. So it is balanced.

He gives a very detailed account of the shopping and bidding for the asset. It is actually one of the best such narratives I have ever read. Maybe Barbarians at the Gate compares but it's been a long time since I read that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on July 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Other Peoples' Money" contains 2 stories: The first is the tale of a huge real estate deal that went south in a hurry. A $5,400,000,000 investment shriveled in worth to some $3,000.000, 000. As the title states, the brunt of the loss was borne by outside investors-not the wheeler dealers behind the sale. Notable among the soaked investors were the Florida State Pension System, the Province of Ontario Retirement System, and the California State Teachers Retirement System. Those affected? The little people in those locations. It is also the tale of the often interesting, if vile personalities involved. Yet OPM is basically a dry business tale the type of which has been told better elsewhere

The other tale is for those of us who actually LIVE here in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. Full disclosure: This reviewer has lived in the community since 1975 and is a building captain in the Tenants Association. For us, it is hard not to feel like a minnow swimming with barracudas. The wheeler dealers (no names mentioned-there is no need) simply don't care about the little folks like us. They never have and never will-especially here in New York City. Just ask the poor pensioneers. In the interest of brevity, this review will ignore the gory details. Very basically, the new guys had no idea what they were getting into. Also, the anticipated dragooned turnover of apartments did not materialize. Most of us are honest folks, living here legally, trying to be good tenants. This reviewer does not think that the new owners ever believed that. The foregoing is admittedly a vastly truncated version of the transpired events.

Author Bagli tells the full story, chapter and verse. Nothing is omitted.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stuy Town-Peter Cooper Village tenant on April 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Other People's Money starts somewhat like the movie, "Wall Street" (picture, if you will, a Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen type on their way to 200 Park to cut the deal with MetLife for the sale of the century...this was the Tishman team!). You are the fly on the wall, privy to these negotiations, step-by-step as it swiftly unravels.

Chronicling the creation of the complexes, the book delves into the holiest of holy reigns in NYC history...La Guardia and Moses with Ecker ...please genuflect now! The transition of MetLife being owned by policy holders to Benmosche's "sleeping giant's" transformation to a stockholder corporation is depicted, and why this redirected the mission of MetLife in regard to its real estate holdings and investments once, revered by insiders as cash cows and sacred.

Other People's Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made Bagli nailed the humanity of it all in each tenant of Stuy Town-PCV he quotes; in relaying the history of the ground-breaking WWII veterans tenant-led successful desegregation campaign; and in the depiction of Al Doyle's and Dan Garodnick's leadership and profound integrity.

In interpreting the mega-complexity, of the mind-boggling, wheeling and dealing through the years of this historic sale, and the later monumental default that was prevalent and frequent at that time in the "Wall Street Casino," many readers [like me] will appreciate the explanation of the layer upon layer of complicated debt structure and how the bond holders now still expect to be compensated.
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