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Joel

Columbia, MD, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Michael Lewis
    • Narrated By Jesse Boggs
    Overall
    (4350)
    Performance
    (1820)
    Story
    (1840)

    Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real-estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages? Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his number-one best-selling Liar’s Poker.

    Jill says: "Finally, I understand what happened!"
    "Interesting, informative with a sense of doom..."
    Overall

    In 2007-8, defaults on low-cost loans to risky (sub-prime) borrowers nearly took the entire financial edifice down. What happened?

    Michael Lewis' book goes a long way to explaining how a few bad mortgages caused the near-implosion of the entire American financial system in 2007-8. He goes into the nature of the individuals and players who were making these investments (bets), how they made the decisions they made and what the implications were.

    In addition to studying characters and events, Lewis provides a good explanation of the underlying nature of the investments...mortgage-backed bonds, Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO's) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS's) that led to the investment crisis, and how they came to become such a large part of various investment strategies. If you wanted to know how these items worked and how they evolved into such a major part of the economy, this is a good place. A deep understanding of Wall Street is not needed.

    The book is well-written. The characters are engaging and there is enough dark humor to keep it from getting boring. It's perhaps more of a story and a little less academic than one might expect. There are a few omissions...for example, I would have like to have learned more about the rating companies' surprising willingness to give high ratings to questionable securities (Lewis talked about it, but I was left wondering about more of the details of that aspect of the story).

    Jesse Boggs's reading is great. He really seems connected with the author's content.

    In conclusion, "The Big Short" is somewhat like Greek tragedy...the story is compelling, but the gods are toying with everyone and the listener knows the unhappy ending before the book even starts.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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