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The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History [Hardcover]

Gregory Zuckerman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 3 2009
In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall.  Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing.  He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall Street. But Paulson was convinced this was his chance to make his mark. He just wasn't sure how to do it.  Colleagues at investment banks scoffed at him and investors dismissed him.  Even pros skeptical about housing shied away from the complicated derivative investments that Paulson was just learning about.  But Paulson and a handful of renegade investors such as Jeffrey Greene and Michael Burry began to bet heavily against risky mortgages and precarious financial companies. Timing is everything, though. Initially, Paulson and the others lost tens of millions of dollars as real estate and stocks continued to soar. Rather than back down, however, Paulson redoubled his bets, putting his hedge fund and his reputation on the line.
     In the summer of 2007, the markets began to implode, bringing Paulson early profits, but also sparking efforts to rescue real estate and derail him. By year's end, though, John Paulson had pulled off the greatest trade in financial history, earning more than $15 billion for his firm--a figure that dwarfed George Soros's billion-dollar currency trade in 1992.  Paulson made billions more in 2008 by transforming his gutsy move.  Some of the underdog investors who attempted the daring trade also reaped fortunes. But others who got the timing wrong met devastating failure, discovering that being early and right wasn't nearly enough.
     Written by the prizewinning reporter who broke the story in The Wall Street Journal, The Greatest Trade Ever is a superbly written, fast-paced, behind-the-scenes narrative of how a contrarian foresaw an escalating financial crisis--that outwitted Chuck Prince, Stanley O'Neal, Richard Fuld, and Wall Street's titans--to make financial history.

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Review

"Simply terrific. Easily the best of the post-crash financial books." 
--Malcolm Gladwell

"Mr. Zuckerman is a first-rate reporter who is also able to explain the complexities of real estate finance in layman’s terms. At times, The Greatest Trade Ever reads like a thriller."
--The New York Times 

“How Paulson and a handful of contrarian investors pulled off this once-in-a-lifetime coup is the subject of The Greatest Trade Ever ... a fascinating and believable counter-narrative to the growing pile of books recounting the disastrous mistakes made by many of the supposedly smartest minds on Wall Street. It is also a surprisingly dramatic work...In The Greatest Trade Ever, Zuckerman skillfully shows how Paulson and a few cohorts anticipated a disaster and figured out a way to profit.”
--BusinessWeek

"More than a cinematic narrative of how Paulson and others figured out how to short the market. We’re also reminded of how opaque and illiquid some financial instruments are, how little Wall Street executives understood them, and how difficult it was for more knowledgeable bankers to say that the subprime emperor had no clothes."
--Bloomberg.com

"Zuckerman has a story to tell, a thread to follow, and it just happens to turn out that by following the saga of John Paulson, Zuckerman reveals all kinds of fascinating perspectives on complex finance, the real estate bubble and Wall Street and Washington's difficulties in putting the two together.”
--TheDeal.com

“A magnificent insider look at how Paulson and others profited off of subprime’s demise, detailing both the formulation and implementation of such a trade…Zuckerman’s work is both insightful and gripping.”
--Marketfolly.com

"Greg Zuckerman was the first to tell the world about John Paulson's sensational trade…He's written the definitive account of a strange and wonderful subplot of the financial crisis."
--Michael Lewis, bestselling author of Moneyball and Home Game

"Gregory Zuckerman takes us to Wall Street's heart of darkness, where mushroomed a $1 trillion subprime mortgage market that only the few, the brave, the smart dared short. The story of John Paulson and the few colorful contrarians who made outsized bets and outrageous profits on the subprime implosion, is at once a great page-turner and a great illuminator of the market's crash."
--John Helyar, co-author, Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

"Greg Zuckerman's book is much, much more than a brilliant account of Paulson's trade of the century; it also provides a highly enjoyable and lucid journey through the analytical and emotional maze that constituted the financial markets on the eve of the Great Recession. The book is compulsory reading for those looking for exceptional insights on the complex forces that interconnect Wall Street, hedge funds and Main Street."
--Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. and bestselling author of When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change

"I couldn't put it down. All I can say is, WOW! What a story! Incredibly illuminating."
--Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and author of More Mortgage Meltdown: 6 Ways to Profit in These Bad Times

"A wonderful, fast-paced summary of how John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, made billions of dollars."
--Sarasota Herald-Tribune

"The Greatest Trade Ever is aptly titled, for it is possibly the greatest book to come out of the financial crisis of 2007 — 2008, and it’s certainly up there in the top 3."
--Bnet.com

"...a Tour de Force chronicling the rise of John Paulson from a mediocre merger arbitrage investment manager into a financial titan."
--Marketthoughts.com

"An astonishingly interesting story."
--David Warsh, EconomicPrincipals.com 





 

About the Author

GREGORY ZUCKERMAN is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, where he has been a reporter for twelve years. He pens the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and writes about hedge funds, investing, and other Wall Street topics. Zuckerman appears on CNBC twice a week to explain complex trades. He is a two-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the credit crisis, the demise of WorldCom, and the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors, and he is a recipient of other awards. 

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Story April 13 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great story about the men who made billions on the crash of the sub prime market and the foolish investment banks who misread the market risks they were taking. A great insiders look at the presures of running a hedge fund and playing against the market's prevalent assumptions. A recounting of the re-occuring theme that outsiders often have a better perception of reality than the insiders. A very similar book in content to Michael Lewis' "The Big Short" - i.e. most of the characters are in both books. This account is more in a journalistic style (the auther is a Wall Street Journal writer) than Lewis'character-based stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a fantastic read Jan. 12 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I never read a book so fast. I'm not a Wall Street guy, but this book felt like it was written for me. Very good work. Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
As a former Wall Street trader, I remember the days that Paulson was in the same firm as I was and bringing all of his cronies to life in this book, was a trip down memory lane for me. More important is the way Gregory wove the story from one exciting moment to another and how the cast of characters all fitted into the story in the big picture, and then on their own as he portrayed each one of them individually and what they went through to create or duplicate the same trade as John Paulson's "Greatest Trade Ever". Those who trade will find this one very exciting read, and those who don't will get a chance to see how the power of the trade gives those who push the envelope, one gigantic adrenaline rush.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Educational June 11 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very interesting and well told story about the financial crisis and subsequent collapse and the few people who saw the problem and got on the right side of the market. While a good story of a very interesting person it is also very educational and informative. If you want the details on the exotic financial instruments involved this book is also very good. It is a little dense at times, especially for the non-financial types like myself, it is well worth the effort.
Two other books on the financial crisis worth reading are Scott Patterson's "The Quants" and Michael Lewis' "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine".
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet to read it May 20 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
But thank you for fast shipping. After I bought it I put it on my low priority to read. I do not spect I to add too much value.
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