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The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It: What You Need to Know About the Greatest Financial Crisis of Our Time--and How to Survive It Paperback – January 27, 2009
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About the Author
The editor of The Wall Street Journal's Money & Investing section and editor in chief of TheStreet.com, Dave Kansas is the chief markets commentator and a personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It, The Wall Street Journal's Complete Money & Investing Guidebook, and TheStreet.com Guide to Investing in the Internet Era. He lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts by giving a brief history of risk - specifically examining how changes in investment strategies created new risk markets and thus new avenues for profit, leading to the bundling and selling of high risk mortgages that largely kicked off the economic decline. From there proceeds a discussion of derivatives, private-equity, and leverage.
Chapter three deals with the 'canaries in the coal mine' that should have been taken note of before the collapse of Bear Stearns. Chapter four deals with the cascading impacts such as the takeover of Fannie and Freddie and the death of Lehman Brothers.
Chapter five is about where we go from here. Chapter six shifts to the individual and which types of investments are protected. Chapter seven is about debt and Chapter eight provides advice for the individual, based on their age.
Scattered throughout the book are mini-biographies of the names and faces involved, such as Timothy Geithner, Warren Buffett, and Alan Greenspan. At the end of each chapter is a summary in the form of an FAQ.
I found the book very interesting and well written. What to many would sound like a rather dry subject is given in a fast paced narrative.
Another thing became clear - that Dave Kansas, from his perch as a journalist with The Wall Street Journal, TheStreet.com, and FiLife is one of the few writers who could have written this book.
Kansas captures the historical background to the cataclysmic month of October 2008 using the recent examples of the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the Russian crisis of 1998, the U.S. internet and technology bubble of 2000-2001. More pointedly, he delves into the implosion of hedge fund Long Term Capital Management (LTCM), the shortsighted policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the creation of, and dependence on, credit-default swaps (CDSs), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs).
Kansas's conclusion: October 2008 was predictable. In fact, many of the firms swirling at the epicenter of the current crisis knew they had serious trouble brewing, but couldn't, or wouldn't, take action to avert their fate.
In early 2009, nothing can hide how much our world and our financial markets have changed. Venerable financial firms have either ceased to exist or been swallowed up by stronger, more prudent, players. We are all left to deal with the aftermath.
We've got to deal with the aftermath as we deal with our individual and collective behavior.Read more ›
Kansas does a good job of explaining why a speculative bubble developed. The basic ingredients were easy money, a widespread conviction that housing prices could only go up, and a willingness of banks, investors, and home buyers alike to borrow beyond their means in hopes of windfall gains. He declines to assign the blame to any particular group, e.g., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, concluding that although these quasi-governmental entities "played their part, so did the Wall Street banks that concocted investment instruments that would turn toxic."
The sequence of events in 2008 is well covered, with background information on some of the key players and layman's language explanations of the complex financial instruments that were involved, e.g., credit default swaps. Nothing really new, but this is a concise and useful summary.
Of course, the story continued beyond the cutoff point chosen for this book (apparently January 2009), and readers may be put off that major developments - such as the $787 billion stimulus bill and the prepackaged bankruptcy filings of Chrysler and General Motors - are not mentioned. Such is the inevitable consequence of getting out a book about "the greatest financial crisis of our time" (per back cover copy) so quickly.
The author's predictions for the future shape of Wall Street are rather sketchy, e.g., he foresees "a handful of behemoths and a number of minnows [specializing] in key areas such as advising on mergers or helping companies go public," with the "firms in between" struggling to survive.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is straight to the point. This book explains 2007 crisis and financial situation in USA at that time. Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by Sopio Svanishvili
Read some newspaper stories. Watch a financial show on TV. Surf the Web. You'll find more detail on why the financial world came to its knees elsewhere. Really. Read morePublished on October 15, 2009 by Dave Walz-Burkett
The book begins with a background description of the events of the economic crisis we have recently experienced. It is a sanitized version of reality. Read morePublished on August 30, 2009 by kokopelli
Since we are in the middle of an economic crisis, this is a really good book that explains how we got there. I found the author's explanation simple and easy to understand. Read morePublished on August 14, 2009 by Mariusz Skonieczny
This is a great mini-book of the issues that lead to the mortgage meltdown in 2008. It is not a textbook that is taught in class and I'm sure any 1 topic can expand into its own... Read morePublished on June 24, 2009 by David Chong
Apart from the hyped to the moon title and the usual tendency of 90% of mainstream money books to be either insanely,rabid dog frothingly pessimistic (Howard Ruff, anyone? Read morePublished on June 19, 2009 by Jeffrey Smith
Interesting reading. It gives one a better understanding of our current
Since most of you do not watch CNBC everyday and read the financial press daily as if a religion, this is a good primer on what went wrong. Read morePublished on May 8, 2009 by Gorbo