- Paperback: 291 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393338827
- ISBN-13: 978-0393338829
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,445 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Paperback – February 1, 2011
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“No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis....[he] does a nimble job of using his subjects’ stories to explicate the greed, idiocies and hypocrisies of a system notably lacking in grown-up supervision....Writing in faintly Tom Wolfe-ian prose, Mr. Lewis does a colorful job of introducing the lay reader to the Darwinian world of the bond market.”
- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance. . . . Lewis achieves what I previously imagined impossible: He makes subprime sexy all over again.”
- Andrew Leonard, Salon.com
“One of the best business books of the past two decades.”
- Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times Book Review
“I read Lewis for the same reasons I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”
- Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Michael Lewis is the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, and The Undoing Project. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
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As soon as I finished watching the 2015 movie “The Big Short,” I immediately decided to read Michael Lewis’ book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” which forms the basis for the film. Lewis, who was himself a Wall Street bond trader in the 1980s and 90s, is the author of several non-fiction books, many of them dealing with the world of finance.
“The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” isn’t so much “about” the financial crisis as it is about what caused the meltdown in the first place. Lewis tells his story through the actions of four separate investment groups: Scion Capital; managed by Dr. Michael Burry; FrontPoint Partners LLC, led by Steve Eisman; Cornwall Capital, co-managed by James Mai and Charlie Ledley; and Greg Lippmann, a bond trader with Deutsche Bank. These investors, each working independently from each other, correctly foresaw the collapse of the housing markets in the United States in 2007. Nobody else saw it – or wanted to, for that matter.
For years, many of the world’s biggest investment and commercial banks had been investing heavily in high-risk subprime mortgages. This caused housing prices to rise, and a “housing bubble” to form. But soon, variable interest rates on these mortgages would begin to rise sharply, and massive numbers of people with little or no income would begin to default on mortgages they could no longer afford. Our four investors each decided to “sell short” the housing markets by investing in “credit default swaps” – a form of insurance against mortgage defaults. They essentially were betting against the housing markets: when (not if) the housing markets failed, the investors would end up making millions…
“The Big Short” is a very well written book. It’s fast-paced, easy to read, and short (less than 300 pages). Michael Lewis’ story is very much character-driven. His profiles of the main players are surprisingly detailed, brutally honest, and fascinating. Some people who start out looking like villains end up as quite heroic and admirable figures. Others do not fare so well.
One of the things Michael Lewis does best is explain many of the technical aspects of the financial system in a manner that I could easily understand. Although I’m sure “mortgage backed securities,” “credit default swaps,” and “collateral debt obligations” are probably a lot more complicated than even Lewis presents them, I found his explanations simple, straightforward, and very useful. As a result, I gained a better knowledge of the financial crisis.
“The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” is a very informative and entertaining book. For those looking to understand the basics of the 2008 financial crisis, this is one very good place to start. Highly recommended.
One warning I will share is that the language is this book goes beyond “Salty”. It was if the film “Serpico” was filmed in a bank’s conference room. The reader may be offended.
--The executives that control our major banks and corporations are insightful entrepreneurs with unique skills for creating wealth and new businesses
--There is too much government regulation
--Cutting taxes for the wealthy produces more prosperity for all
Remember: the book destroys these myths, not as an ideological diatribe, but from the perspective of brokers and analysts who, themselves, participated in the system but saw the house of cards that their more powerful (and well paid) colleagues were building. Not only saw it, but bet their careers and economic futures that it would ultimately collapse--and they were right. It's this book's stunning, fact-based revelations of the corruption, incompetence, and greed in our corporate executive suites that makes it an instant classic. It indicts a whole generation of America's corporate and financial leaders.
And remember: these same leaders, or their like-minded clones, are still in place, and already trying to turn back the meager reforms put in place to prevent a repeat of their evil. They repeat ad infinitum the shibboleth that government regulation, not corporate malfeasance, is the source of our economic malaise. They further that Big Lie by using their ill-gotten wealth to control the media and to elect their lackeys to office. They have no shame, no sense of decency. Left unchecked, they will destroy America. As they came close to doing in 2008.