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Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 2, 2010
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"Eminently readable and convincing...There's great value to be gained in the detail that Farrell reveals." —Salon
"An exhaustive reconstruction of how Merrill Lynch & Co. sealed its own fate by
becoming more bullish on bonuses than on America." —James Pressley, Bloomberg
"Farrell weaves his facts into a story...piling detail upon detail to sketch the inner
workings of Merrill Lynch, which he calls the Wall Street firm that made it possible for
average Americans to reap handsome returns in the stock market." —USA Today
"The...financial crisis's answer to Game Change--John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's
tattle-filled bestseller about the 2008 Presidential election--Farrell shows that... seemingly trivial matters became the obsessions of Wall Street executives as the subprime contagion spread." —BusinessWeek
“Immaculately reported…Farrell has found one of the biggest untold stories of the [financial crisis] drama.” —Financial Times
“Farrell tells a story based on hundreds of hours of interviews that builds like a hurricane.” —Forbes.com
About the Author
GREG FARRELL is a correspondent for the Financial Times. In January 2009, he broke the news that Merrill Lynch had paid out its 2008 bonuses a month ahead of schedule, in December, even though Merrill was in the process of losing $28 billion for the year, and Bank of America needed an extra $20 billion in taxpayer funds to complete its acquisition of the firm. That story sparked an investigation by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo. Greg is a past winner of the American Business Press’s Jesse Neal Award for investigative reporting and a recipient of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship for business journalism. He earned a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.
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My irritation with it - is Farrell actually Greg Fleming in disguise?? The book was incredibly skewed to Greg the Superhero angle. Here is Greg conceiving of the deal before anyone else. Here is Greg getting $30 a share. Here is Greg waiving his bonus. Here is Greg being offered a job which would humiliate John Thain. Here is Greg, Here is Greg.
I first became familiar with the author, Greg Farrell, when he wrote for USA Today covering major white collar crime stories and I was an FBI agent in New York City. I was always amazed at how he could condense a very complicated business story into a few paragraphs and still convey an accurate and comprehensive report. After reading several of his articles I always wondered what Mr. Farrell could do if he was ever given the freedom to write a detailed, lengthy story. Now I know! Mr. Farrell has knocked the cover off the ball, and also the arrogance, overconfidence and hype out of these two financial institutions.
The author often writes about "the smartest person in the room". The irony of this book is that halfway through reading this book, it occurred to me that maybe the "smartest person in the room" was the person writing the book itself. While he does have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the Harvard educated, Columbia MBA trained author displays a firm grasp and total understanding of the issues involved in running BoA and Merrill Lynch at a time when both firms had to keep up their earnings to match their competitors.
Mr. Farrell has written an amazing book that not only explains how these titans crashed, but reveals in accurate, factual detail why they crashed. I absolutely loved this book!
It's a tough position for another book on the U.S. financial crisis to be released on November 2, 2010 (Crown Business NY, NY) --- if you have read as many great books about the crisis this year as I have.
Don't be fooled. Don't let the 454 pages of this volume dissuade you from considering this magnificent story from Greg Farrell (correspondent for the Financial Times - BA Harvard and MBA from Columbia).
What Crash of the Titans is, in my opinion, is evidence of simply phenomenal storytelling, supported by a depth and breadth of investigative journalism that is both unique and unparalleled. Farrell is a pro - truly a master story teller. The 454 pages flew by based upon the prowess of Farrell's ability to keep the reader engaged on a page-turning journey. His character development is amazing. The tension, innuendo and intrigue are simply fantastic and lend to the credibility of this work as a truly unique, non-fiction financial thriller for 2010.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I worked at both NationsBank and BofA during my career as a regional manager of a commercial lending group (during the years when BofA was acquired by NB and adopted the Bank of America brand). I was with NB at the time of the acquisition and stayed on for several years thereafter with the BofA logo on my business card. Farrell's ability to capture the "culture clash" that occurred during this merger was uncanny - spot on target.
This book is, in my opinion, an eminently fair characterization of the story and the people. Frankly, John Thain did his best - and his performance could not likely be outperformed by comparably capable Wall Street executives who may have been thrust into the situation Mr. Thain was.
Greg Fleming - wherever you are - you are my hero! I'll work for your team any day. I'm waiting for your call Mr. Fleming.
From the sheer excellence of the story telling, supported by the research and investigative journalism...I rate this work as FIVE STARS.
Buy it. You'll truly enjoy it. This book ranks right up there with the works of Lowenstein, Michael Lewis and Scott Patterson's published in 2010.