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The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine Paperback – Feb 1 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338829
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis....[he] does a nimble job of using his subjects’ stories to explicate the greed, idiocies and hypocrisies of a system notably lacking in grown-up supervision....Writing in faintly Tom Wolfe-ian prose, Mr. Lewis does a colorful job of introducing the lay reader to the Darwinian world of the bond market. — Michiko Kakutani (The New York Times)

Superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance. . . . Lewis achieves what I previously imagined impossible: He makes subprime sexy all over again. — Andrew Leonard (Salon.com)

One of the best business books of the past two decades. — Malcolm Gladwell (New York Times Book Review)

I read Lewis for the same reasons I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like. — Malcolm Gladwell (New York Times Book Review)

About the Author

Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.


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By Ian Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Big Short is the best kind of investment book: it's entertaining, with larger than life characters in unimaginable situations; it's edifying (you won't even realize you're being schooled until after the fact); and it's a story no-one else has told ("The Greatest Trade Ever" comes closest). Readers can get structured narratives about the recent crisis through excellent tomes like Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis -- And Themselves", or economist's critiques in books such as Stiglitz's "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy", but you'll likely not find another book like this one; a stunning and jaw-dropping account by one of the best authors in the business.

Lewis is the same author who burst on to the scene with his first book, the instant classic "Liar's Poker", and who followed up with a string of excellent books, including "Moneyball" and "The Blind Side". "The Big Short" is Lewis at his best.

Lewis understands the investment business like the insider he was, but this book is very much from the perspective of a critic. It is much more direct in its criticism of the financial industry than was Liar's Poker. In that book he similarly crafted a terrific story, but with a bemused "can you believe we did that" tone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Lewis's brilliant book "The Big Short," is billed as a sequel to his earlier biographical effort "Liar's Poker" which covered his 1980s experiences on Wall Street. It's a great example of why Malcolm Gladwell has called Lewis "the finest storyteller of our generation."

Subtitled "Inside the Doomsday Machine," the book chronicles the 2008 market collapse from the perspective of those who saw it coming and bet against the subprime mortgage market at the height of the housing bubble. The protagonists, whose foresight earned them fantastic profits, are a colorful lot, including: Steve Eisman, Danny Moses and Vincent Daniel (of FrontPoint Partners, owned by Morgan Stanley); Michael Burry (of Scion Capital); Charlie Ledley, Ben Hockett and Jamie Mai (of Cornwall Capital); and Greg Lippmann (of Deutsche Bank), and a handful of others.

Amazingly, none of these contrarian investors were experts in the housing market. They saw disaster coming while the "smart money" was betting that house prices would continue to rise and that subprime mortgages would pay off. It took this unlikely group of outsiders to see what was about to happen and undertake "the big short."

So what was the Doomsday Machine and how did it work? As Lewis points out, it was spawned by a toxic mix of the US housing bubble, sub-prime mortgage lending, investor greed, and the insatiable demand for leverage by Wall Street Banks. Aiding and abetting these factors were unwitting credit agencies populated by Wall Street rejects and wannabes.

Investors around the world wanted access to the ever-inflating American mortgage market. This gave lenders ever stronger incentive to push new loans out the door.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Reviewed by Mitchell Rhodes

The Big Short takes the reader on a fantastic ride inside the most recent, and many would say ongoing, financial crisis. Lewis introduces us to people who bet against the subprime mortgage market, in all its variations, and in doing so became unimaginably wealthy. They are presented as a few select heroes pitted against the corrupt and often stupid villains of Wall Street insiders and their legion of minions. Has anything really changed since then?

If Dr. Evil ever resurfaces in another installment of Austin Powers, puts his little finger to his mouth and makes a ransom demand for anything less than, “one gazillion dollars,” it will seem preposterous and, once again, a cue for all to laugh.

The shock and awe of billions or even trillions of dollars are past us. They are now just strings of meaningless zeros heading off into the vastness of infinity. Take for example the capitalized notional value of derivatives—pegged at 1.2 quadrillion dollars (December 2012). Really?

That’s the equivalent of 20 years worth of economic activity for the entire planet. And derivatives are only one asset class expecting a return on investment (ROI). When others classes, such as stocks, (traditional) bonds, money market instruments, real estate holdings, etcetera, are added to the mix, financial expectations, going forward, become even more unrealistic and ridiculous.

Due to a system of circular collateralization, debt, money and other financial assets essentially get boiled down to the same thing—mental constructs of value. The assigned values are now stratospheric. At best, they are delusional, dishonest and corrupt, and at worst, dangerously catastrophic.
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