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The Big Short Paperback – Feb 1 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W.W. NORTON & CO.-TRADE; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338829
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ian Robertson TOP 100 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bob Cluett on June 26 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Big Short is an account of the guys who made a killing as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and other less renowned banking and investment names were being sucked down the tubes by the mega-leveraging of overvalued derivative paper. Those guys did it, of course, in accordance with the Michael Lewis mythology, the story that he tells and re-tells in all his ego-fronted books: quick, bright young deviants (the new kids) beat up on slow, old, established traditionalists. But The Big Short is different from Lewis's other work like Moneyball in that this time the mythology fits the reality of which he is giving an account. This time, the quick young deviants - nobodies with names like Steve Eisman, Mike Burry and Vinny Daniel - really did take the measure of the financial community's big dudes - Richard Fuld, Ken Thompson, John Thain. And though the big dudes were retired or fired on generous terms, they did not leave their executive suites wreathed in laurels, and they left their stockholders holding a lot of empty bags. In this book, reality and the Lewis mythology are together at last.
In the summer of 2010 David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times contrasting Princes with Grinds (NYTimes, 13 July 2010). The Princes are people like John Thain and Bill Miller: gracious, widely informed, gifted in conversation, they are men you feel privileged to be with. Grinds, on the other hand, are brilliant but narrow and boring, often totally graceless. The heroes of Lewis's book are - to a man - Grinds, and Lewis does an excellent job of showing the degree to which their social dysfunctions equipped them to be the ultimate contrarians and ultimate winners in the subprime collapse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barry Francis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 22 2014
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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