The Big Short – Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is the dude who was so sick of what he saw on Wall Street that he quit his job to write Liar’s Poker, and was then dismayed to find that people thought it was a manual on how to get ahead.

Anyway, so when the recent financial crisis kicked in, he thought he was probably best placed to write another book, because he kind of saw it coming, albeit in a “there’s no way this scam can keep going” way. In researching The Big Short, he tracked down several people who specifically saw what was going wrong with the market in (and I’ve forgotten the exact terms) CDOs and CDSs and took big bets against the rest of the world’s so-called financial experts.

The book explains what happened, how these guys saw it was going wrong (not actually terribly difficult if you knew what you were looking at, which a lot of people apparently didn’t) and what happened when everything started to fall over.

It’s clearly written, especially considering how arcane some of the concepts and structures are, and lays bare how deluded everyone from the top of the big banks to the politicians to the traders to the people being sold mortgages they couldn’t afford were. I feel very sorry for the last group; not so much for the others.

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