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A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers Paperback – October 12, 2010
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—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Highly readable…A Colossal Failure of Common Sense largely rings true. It expresses the anger that many former Lehman employees still feel toward Mr. Fuld. And it convincingly characterizes the investment bank as a house divided against itself, between the bears who had foreseen bubbles and the bulls who wrongly believed that this time was different.”
“... describes a CEO acting as if his firm was too big to fail.”
—Wall Street Journal
“...poignantly told...from an insider [who] witnessed, often in amazement and disgust, the corporate dysfunction and hubristic leadership that led to [Lehman’s] demise.”
“...engaging and even funny.”
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
PATRICK ROBINSON wrote Lone Survivor with the U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
If you are the former, this book is likely to please. It has all the elements of a pot boiler - the breathless accounts of secret meetings, mutiny in the boardroom and the heroic efforts of a few key guys trying valiantly to save the sinking ship. It has the relentless enemy and the arch villain. The only thing missing is the scantily clad woman draped over the hero's arm.
The other side of the barbell is the financial services insider who knows all the acronyms inside and out - CDO, CLO, RMBS, CMBS, SIV who is nevertheless looking for a straight account of what went wrong - like the classic 'smartest guys in the room' on the Enron disaster.
If you are on that side of the barbell, steer clear of this book. It offers no insight into anything, except perhaps the massive ego of a low level trader. By all accounts, Larry McDonald should never have been allowed to place the kind of bets he claims to have made. He was obviously a junior trader on a bond desk that used shareholder money to short everything in sight taking massive short CDS positions on all sorts of names, good and bad. The irony seems entirely lost to him, but his desk was part of the CDS problem - buying protection with no underlying holdings.
Like any gambler, he worships the analyst (Jane Castle) who gave him the hot tip - (Buy Delta, young man!) but is too dumb to acknowledge that Delta could easily have woundup another Eastern, or more to the point, another TWA. The 'hostile' bid from US Airways that made his profit, nearly killed US Airways...Read more ›
McDonald's tale of `mission creep' when it comes to declining ethics is a familiar tale whether it is WorldCom, Enron or Lehman. But at times his premise seems a bit conflicted: if the truly destructive forces at Lehman were limited to these eight employees alone then why focus on the broader culture of declining ethics? Weren't those declining ethics equally responsible for Lehman's collapse? Can someone so close to the situation really be objective in analysis and conclusions?Read more ›
This book is simply a vehicle for McDonald's own ego and hubris, which is ironic given the subject matter. He claims that he is an insider, but he was one of thousands of vice presidents. And yet he deceptively tries to paint the picture that he, Michael Gelband, Alex Kirk, and Larry McCarthy were all at the same table. This, along with lines like "I was the only one who realized..." go to his overall credibility and makes me just roll my eyes.
Everything is black and white to McDonald, but there is much more nuance to this story and that's what I want to read. And the melodrama throughout the book is beyond annoying -- starting with the line "It was probably the worst triple since St. Peter denied Christ." Seriously? And it's like that all the way through the book.
Long story short, the only reason why this book will make any money is because it's the first book out. But it's worth the wait to get the story from an author whose goal is not simply self-promotion and my take-away from this book is that McDonald wrote it more to stroke his ego than anything else.
There will be plenty of books that take the necessary and critical look at Fuld and Gregory's actions, so save your time and money and skip this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In this work Larry Mcdonald so eloquently analyzes not only Lehman Brothers the company, but also Lehman Brothers the people, and I think that is a key distinction. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
How close Lehman was to finding a way out, but snatched defeat for the same reasons it went down in the first place - a colossal failure of common sense by its CEO and boardPublished 11 months ago by Fred
The book is poorly written and the author is prone to hyperbole. Some of the quotes are clearly made up. Read morePublished 12 months ago by TA
Not only is this an amazing story and an incredibly well written book, but the author is a genuine class act! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Joseph