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The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash Paperback – February 9, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group; Rev Ed edition (February 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586486918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586486914
  • ASIN: B002CMLQVQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,491,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for those of you like me who are not in the financial services industry but who want to understand why our economy is melting down as we speak. It will also help you understand why this upcoming election is so important: The author describes the seismic ideological shifts over the last 40 years, from the Liberal/Keynsian era that imploded in the late 70s, to the current dying embers of the Chicago-School free market ideology that has held sway from Reagan up to the present moment. The author believes it is time once again for the pendulum to swing in the direction of more activist, socially conscious government intervention. He is not a liberal ideologue but a former banker who comes to his conclusions based on objectivity, knowledge, and lucid thought. The integrity of his thinking shines through every page. This is not always an easy book to read; due to the subject matter it is rife with all sorts of financial industry acronyms and terms like "tranch" and "quant" and "put", but don't let that throw you. Just keep reading with the big picture in mind and it will all come together in the end. It's well worth the effort!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am learning a lot reading this, even though I've followed the economy for years. The preface summarizes the situation and outlines the book, but is maybe slightly dense and technical for the average person. But the first chapter is great for giving perspective on how the US economy has evolved, especially the troubles of the stagflation period and what caused that. The book goes up to November 2007, with a clear understanding that the credit bubble was going to have to unwind, and it was either going to cost $1 trillion, or, if the government tried to paper it over, a lot more.
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Format: Hardcover
In this excellent, highly readable book, Charles R. Morris combines legal and financial experience with literary craft. No ideologue, no partisan and certainly no salesman, Morris traces the roots of the 2007-2008 mortgage securities crisis to its distant origins in the 1970s. He argues that policy missteps under the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations, when Arthur Burns chaired the Federal Reserve, led to dollar debasement. He contends that the decline of America's currency and its business sector at that time led in turn to the Reagan administration's zeal for deregulation and Chicago-school economics. He details his belief that Alan Greenspan's policies took America from a relatively healthy financial status to a position perhaps as dire as in the late 1970s. Morris also reveals the privileges enjoyed by an out-of-control financial services system. getAbstract found this to be a trenchant and provocative read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lawyer and former investment banker, Charles Morris can appreciate the power of free-market capitalism to drive economic growth and financial innovation. Now, however, he believes the era of market fundamentalism has come to an end, just as Keynesian interventionism came to an end in the 1970s. He estimates conservatively that the recent writedowns and defaults of residential mortgages, corporate debt, credit card debt, and bonds will be about $1 trillion. But this book was written before even more recent revelations such as the Bear Sterns insolvency. It is now estimated that the bill could be 3 or 4 times as high.

Morris gives a brief but excellent history of events that led up to the current credit crunch that is paralyzing global financial markets. Disasters have many fathers, but Morris lays much of the blame on bond rating agencies, financial insurance companies and the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan. After 9/11 the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates below the rate of inflation, essentially giving banks free money. Banks then lent money for fees up front and then repackaged the loans - turned them into securitized debt - and sold them to investors. It was basically cost free and risk free, so they lent money as if there was no tomorrow.

These securitized debts or CDOs (collaterilized debt obligations) were sold and resold throughout the global financial system and no longer did anyone know how to measure their value or their risk.

Add to this the fact that homeowners were using the rising equity of their homes as atms and pumping another $4 trillion into the economy.

Also add to the mix $700 billion annual trade deficit that indicates that much more consumption over production. The party was really in full swing.
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Format: Hardcover
I rated this book 4 stars for its timeliness.

In my opinion, most people do not even begin to understand what is going on in the credit market and those who could are either in self-denial or lying to the public. This book is an excellent primer on the subject.

I expect that by the time more in-depth books are written the problem will be evident for all to see.

The last chapter, although well intentioned, is highly opinionated. However, the rest of the book is objective.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the best explanation of the credit crunch that I have seen to date. Most writers on this subject try to "simplify" their descriptions of CDOs, SIVs etc. in the mistaken belief that they are helping the reader. Instead all that happens is that the average reader never gets to understand what's really going on.

Morris explains the nitty gritty of these financial instruments in good, clear English and that in itself makes the book worth the price.

I would have given this book 5 stars, but for the last chapter. I was hoping for Morris' input on how (and when) this crisis will pan out, and what businees model banks will adopt now that the present one is so broken. Unfortunately Morris gets diverted into a diatribe on health care and other interesting but irrelevant matters, and we never really find out much about his vision of the new world post 2008. That's a shame - but read the book anyway if you want to really understand what's going on in the world of finance today.
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