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All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis Paperback – Bargain Price, August 30, 2011
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A business book that is as riveting as an adventure novel... a masterpiece * Huffington Post * When the financial crisis of this decade is being taught in business schools, All the Devils Are Here could be the textbook. * Time * Grand in scope, overwhelming in detail, this is as compelling as a well-crafted literary novel * USA Today * Yields a rich and intricate tableau of understanding * Financial Times * A thorough account of the origins of the financial crisis. Helps explain the most troubling headlines of the moment, as well as those that are certain to come. * New York Times * Joe Nocera is the best business writer alive * Jim Cramer * --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are Fortune senior writers. McLean, a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, lives in New York City. Her March 2001 article in Fortune, "Is Enron Overpriced?," was the first in a national publication to openly question the company's dealings.
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Without taking anything away from any of those books, All the Devils are Here manages to cover every important financial aspect of the crisis. To be fair, it doesn't go into as much history or theory as Justin Fox, Michael Hirsh or Yago and Allen did, and it's not as great a story as Michael Lewis and Scott Patterson extracted. It covers the crisis and only the crisis and is too detailed to be as much fun as Lewis and Patterson.
You won't find gigantic surprises in this book, the usual suspects are examined: originate-to-sell, government-sponsored entities, political pressure to increase homeownership and provide jobs and perks for politicians and their friends, rating agencies, mathematical models divorced from commonsense and reality, CEO's remote from their businesses, and all sorts of people chasing profits and supressing doubts. What this account adds is nuance and balance. Different things mattered at different times, and in most cases there were at least some positive aspects. Things that everyone agrees were bad usually turn out to be bad in this account, but often in slightly different ways than is commonly assumed. Not all doubts were supressed, and a comforting number of people acted with honor and wisdom rather than short-term focus on profits or votes (not a decisive number, unfortunately, but comforting compared to popular conception).
If you read one book to understand the crisis, I recommend this one. Your understanding will be much deeper if you read all the ones above, and those might be better choices if you're interested in the crisis in some larger context, like the history of finance or political decision-making. But this is an amazing accomplishment, to distill this complete and even-handed a story while the fallout is still falling and few participants have had a chance to reflect on events and add perspective. No doubt there will be better histories in the future, but I'll bet the authors will all start by reading this one.
This book takes the reader from the mid 1970's through to 2008 with an easy to comprehend depiction of all the players and key events that culminated in the the bursting of the real estate/stock market bubble. I have read many other works and listened to other reports about the cause of the current recession. Almost every account suffers from the same shortcoming. Namely the cause of the 2008 crash is usually depicted as caused by a relatively recent and isolated course of events and the blame is largely put on one entity such as the federal government, the big banks or Fannie Mae.
"All the Devils Are Here" on the other hand deftly explains how many entities contributed to the crash of 2008, from the federal government to Fannie Mae to the securities ratings agencies to the Wall Street superpowers like Goldman Sachs. This book furthermore explains how the creation of the massive volume of subprime loan portfolios, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swamps never could have been possible absent the synergistic cooperation of all these key players together.
Finally, this book points out how for decades there had been many individuals who shouted from rooftops warning of the toxic nature of this Frankenstine-like financial machine. However each and every one of these individuals calling for beefed up regulation and transparency were swiftly and summarily put down, usually by the intoxicating rhetoric of the Chicagoan school of economics led by Alan Greenspan and his "committee to save the world".
I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody interested in taking their head out of the sand and figuring out what exactly happened during one of the most important chapters of American and world history.
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She makes a tough subject understandable without the machinations and half truths you get...Read more