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The End of Wall Street Paperback – Bargain Price, March 29, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lowenstein (When Genius Failed) offers an overview of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that rises above the glut of similarly themed books with its juicy behind-the-scenes detail and thoughtful analysis. He sets out to prove that the current financial difficulties began long before the summer of 2008, and long before the failure of Lehman Brothers. He begins with the history of Fannie Mae and the rise of mortgage-based securities and a dangerously burgeoning housing bubble, and hits the high points of the 2008-2009 news cycles, including Washington Mutual's unwise loan strategies, the panic following Bear Stearns's near-demise, a rash of foreclosures, TARP, and the woes of Citigroup. The insider knowledge lends flavor and context to many of these stories—a ranting Jim Cramer, Ben Bernanke's loss of confidence, and Alan Greenspan's astonishing 2008 testimony to Congress. Lowenstein's strong knowledge of the source material and flair for the dramatic—and doomsday title—should draw readers who still wonder what went wrong and how. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Lowenstein has written four books on business trends and financial crises and has written for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade. Although the events leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 have been chronicled from many angles, Lowenstein takes a deeper look at the systemic oversights that led up to that event. The media often blames the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the failure of AIG for the calamity that froze credit markets and ground the economy to a halt, leading to record job losses and the worst downturn since the Great Depression. But the structural damage to the financial system had already been in place by then, brought on by the speculative bubble in real estate nationwide, which was accelerated by lax regulation in subprime mortgages and the securitization of mortgages and endless derivatives, which spread the risk like toxic waste throughout the financial system. Lowenstein does a great job of explaining all this in understandable terms that unobtrusively avoid the injection of emotion and politics. --David Siegfried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118722
  • ASIN: B0053U7DQG
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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One of the differences between Roger Lowenstein's 2000 book, When Genius Failed, and his latest book, The End of Wall Street, is that when Genius was written it plowed a lot of new ground describing the events that led up to (and followed) the collapse of the improbably-named Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) hedge fund back in 1998. (At that time, the LTCM saga was a very big deal, although the seriousness of the event has certainly been eclipsed by the more recent financial crisis.) The fact that Lowenstein was--and remains--a gifted writer just made Genius all the better. Today, in contrast, the events of the recent financial crisis are reasonably well known, and I've lost count how many books have been written on the subject. Is there room for one more? Sure. However, don't expect blinding revelations. Really. There is little new material that you probably haven't seen elsewhere. Fortunately, The End of Wall Street is well written, as you would expect from Lowenstein, so be prepared to enjoy a thoughtful, well-researched and engaging story. I haven't downgraded The End of Wall Street because it isn't the first book on its subject (although some may want to do that), but rather have rated it on the basis of how enjoyable it is. Frankly, I don't think it's quite up to When Genius Failed standards, but it's still a good effort.

This 298-page book begins with a list of its cast of characters that's over eight pages long. However, many of them--like Ben Bernanke, Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Barney Frank, Timothy Geintner, Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers and others--hardly need an introduction. Lowenstein accurately tells the reader than it wasn't so much what followed the Lehman Brothers failure that was most important, but what preceded it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Genius Failed, Roger Lowenstein's previous book on Wall Street, was a tale of hubris. It told the story of the rise and fall of LTCM, a hedge fund led by financial superstars, which failed and was bailed out in 1998 because its managers had placed excessive trust in their models. They thought they had found the ultimate money-making formula, but they fell on the rare event nobody had anticipated: the Asian financial crisis and Russia's default on its government bonds.

The book had a hero: John Meriwether, the brilliant bond trading manager who assembled a team of financial whizkids and Nobel prize winners. John Meriwether gained a measure of fame in Michael Lewis' book Liar's Poker, where he is described by Lewis as a Salomon Brothers fixed income guru and master of Liar's Poker, a game of bluff involving the guessing of numbers on hundred dollar bills which came to define the money culture of Wall Street at that time. Meriwether had grown up a bit by the time he created LTCM, but When Genius Failed retained the youthful energy that made trading floors sound like a college students' lounge, brimming with practical jokes and laughter. Greed and arrogance were tempered by team spirit and irreverence.

By contrast, The End of Wall Street is a story of cynicism and abuse, deception and fraud. The youthful enthusiasm is gone, and all is left are the cold calculating strategies of consenting adults bent on abusing each other. In Lowenstein's rendition, Meriwether was a modern Icarus, who burned his wings by trying to reach the sun. In The End of Wall Street, the book's hero is a modern Cassandra who regularly warns his contemporaries on upcoming catastrophy.
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Roger Lowenstein, an accomplished journalist on issues related to high finance and Wall Street, pens a concise, analytical and thrilling overview of our Great Recession culminating in the pinball like events of September and October 2008. While his protagonists are Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner, he neither fawns nor is overly critical, providing understanding and appreciation to their roles and the outcomes of their policies. He examines the excesses of Fannie and Freddie and the legislative refusal of Democratic Congressional leaders to reign them in. He examines the vital role of the three major rating agencies and how their failure to flag the vulnerabilities in the mortgage securities contributed to the mess. AIG and its tentacles in all areas of the financial world are probed making its highly controversial bailout understandable. When Paulson yanks its blameless president's multi million dollar bonus, the reader murmurs "ouch." Lowenstein ferrets into Morgan Stanley's teetering position explaining its final sale of stock to the Japanese. The Big Three's 10/13/08 meeting with the banks forcing the federal government's investment in them is the capstone of governmental intrusion in this time of crises. He deftly plays out his timeline from 2007 through the Obama election never allowing the reader to get lost in the narrative. Without explication, for an adroit writer like Roger Lowenstein is too subtle, it is clear that the events of this two month crisis period keyed the election of Barrack Obama. His superb closing chapter ends with an observation about the prominence of finance in the last two decades and how its central role has diminished now; thus, the title of the book. The future ramifications of the Great Recession can neither be wholly foreseen nor predicted but Lowenstein does an excellent job of forecasting the future by explaining the past.
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