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The Wall Street Money Machine (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

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Length: 46 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Amazon.com Review

In 2006, as the U.S. housing market started its downturn, demand for mortgage-backed securities created by Wall Street investment banks began to dry up. So why did these banks continue to buy tens of billions of dollars' worth of mortgages and package them into securities they had trouble selling? And why did they then sell these worthless securities internally to other divisions within their own banks? ProPublica, an independent, non-profit news organization, sent a team of reporters to investigate. What they found will leave many readers feeling simultaneously astonished and outraged. The actions that led to the collapse of many investment banks and amplified the international financial crisis can be traced back to a handful of executives trying to increase the size of their bonuses. Uncovering and making sense of complicated, esoteric, and shady financial dealings is no easy task. The Pulitzer Prize that ProPublica recently won for this reporting was hard-earned with a practice many newspapers have abandoned--solid investigative reporting. --Paul Diamond

Product Details

  • File Size: 705 KB
  • Print Length: 46 pages
  • Publisher: ProPublica (May 10, 2011)
  • Publication Date: May 10, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050D2EZQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,524 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 20, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Jesse Eisinger is a senior reporter at ProPublica, covering Wall Street and finance. He writes a regular column for The New York Times's Dealbook section. This single by Eisinger gives the background of the US housing market downturn. There's information here that I hadn't read and I've read a lot.

Magnetar was the name that kept coming up when the reporters begin their investigation about the housing and financial crises in 2008. "Getting to the bottom of what Magnetar actually did in the arcane market for mortgage securities took months," the author says.

Magnetar betted against it's own deals and pushing for riskier assets to go into them. This increased the chances the deals would blow up.

The author questioned who else was buying these bad assets. "Faced with few real investors, bankers did not stop manufacturing securities. Instead, we discovered, they manipulated the business to make it appear as if there was more demand than there was."

Shareholders were not in the loop. Banks "created a daisy chain of interlocking deals" and bought each other' leftovers. They also secretly bought their own deals that they couldn't sell.

The author says that decisions made by individuals made the boom last longer and it made the collapse worse. Moreover, few would be held accountable for their actions.

If you're interested in the secret manipulations of bankers and the greed that brought down the financial pillars, you'll want to read this exciting single.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sagar Jethani on July 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Wall Street Money Machine" is an investigative report prepared by ProPublica and NPR's Planet Money. It examines two aspects of the financial crisis:

* the role of hedge fund Magnetar, which worked in concert with the banks to create high-risk CDOs which it then bet against

* how the banks artificially increased demand for CDO's by co-opting CDO manager and forcing them to buy these derivatives under threat of losing future business

Toward the nadir of US housing prices, Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar came up with a novel concept: work directly with the big banks to create mortgage-backed securities comprised of mortgages most likely to default. The banks (Merrill, Citi, Goldman, etc.) then promoted these CDOs to their clients, while Magnetar took out short positions on them. This recalls to mind Goldman's now-infamous ABACUS fund, which the bank internally bet against while simultaneously promoting to its clients. Before long, Magnetar alone accounted for a large percentage of the CDO market.

At the same time, banks were beginning to realize that investor demand for its mortgage-based securities was beginning to flag. Rather than wind-down its reliance upon these toxic assets, they opted for a different approach: co-opt the supposedly independent fund managers and force them to purchase newly-issued CDO under threat. Rather than assert their independence, most fund managers complied with the banks' demands rather than put their lucrative fee streams in jeopardy. Indeed, the banks often made life easier by approaching potential future managers with propositions to set them up for the sole purpose of buying their toxic assets, thereby artificially stimulating demand.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. Andreoli on May 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Despite the complex dynamics involved in the recent financial collapse, the Pulitzer winning investigation presented in this single is easy to follow and understand.
The 'bad guy' in this story is the 'CDO - collateralized debt obligation', a box full of commitments to pay, i.e., mortgages. The banks created, sold and bought loads and loads of CDOs, unfortunately many of them made up from loans given to people who could not pay back. The all system started to crumble when nobody wanted to buy this latter and riskiest (toxic) portion of the CDOs. The banks then began to buy their own toxic CDOs exposing themselves to a huge risk of not getting back the enormous amount of money they lent. We all know that what was a risk is now a certainty since from all over the world banks have lost their (or better, our) money.
Only few 'smart' individuals earned from this disaster, those who insured themselves against such a risk. Once the toxic CDOs defaulted the insurance companies had to pay them back.
--- The single is full of the names of the people who made this possible, it is very interesting to see their faces and learn what they are doing now.
--- You can find all the articles collected in this single free of charge in ProPublica's website, but this is really the case in which is more than worth to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Pretlow on August 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an amateur who has read only two other books about the mechanisms for the collapse of our nation's economy, reading this book left me amazed by how many important details of the crisis were unknown to me. In particular, this books lays out the details of the role of collateralized debt obligations in contributing to events that led to our financial collapse.
For those who are not experts in this area of finance, I would recommend this book as a short and very specific introduction to the genesis of our financial collapse. It is encouraging to see the survival of some investigative reporting.
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