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The Greatest Trade Ever: How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History | [Gregory Zuckerman]

The Greatest Trade Ever: How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History

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....
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Publisher's Summary

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 his 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 prize-winning reporter who broke the story in The Wall Street Journal, The Greatest Trade Ever is a superbly written behind-the-scenes narrative of how a contrarian foresaw an escalating financial crisis.

©2009 Gregory Zuckerman; (P)2009 Random House

What the Critics Say

"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.)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (310 )
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  •  
    David NEW YORK, NY, United States 05-02-11
    David NEW YORK, NY, United States 05-02-11 Member Since 2008

    TVLover

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better Books Now Available"

    This book may have been a decent report when it was published but it has since been overtaken by more complete or better written accounts. "All the Devils are Here" is an amazing comprehensive tome on the financial crisis and 30 years of policies that got us there. "The Big Short" focuses, like this book, on people who shorted the housing market but it more insightful and better written.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael a delaney 04-25-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "delamic"

    if you have read the big short by lewis don't bother reading this book as there is nothing new. if you have a choice between the two books go with michael lewis. he is a better writer and the narration is also better.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jean-louis jaumin 02-13-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Easy going story"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Wonderful book to listen when you are in the car or have the will to relax. The story is easy and you just have to take it in..... the fun of it is that at the end of the day it is true and some had got it right a long time before the federal agencies and the fed decided to understand what was happening. this magical down turn in the economy so many are suffering of has been able to generate so much wealth for a view is astonishing and will et you wonder a lot on the reality of wall street....


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    if they made a film out of the book I would certainly go and see it.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandon Cincinnati, OH, United States 10-10-11
    Brandon Cincinnati, OH, United States 10-10-11
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    "Excellent Book"

    This book gives excellent background detail and provides a clear understanding of the complex world of hedge funds.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    janne Bangkok, Thailand 09-18-11
    janne Bangkok, Thailand 09-18-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent narrator"

    Even audio is over 11hour long, it took me two days to finnished. Narrator is also as good as the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oscar Fallbrook, CA, USA 06-08-10
    Oscar Fallbrook, CA, USA 06-08-10 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Greatest Trade Ever"

    Well thought out storyline without too much technical BS made it easy to follow for a layman.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 05-02-10
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 05-02-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen"

    If you like financial stuff you will like this book. It has a good list of characters and is very interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 01-12-10
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 01-12-10 Member Since 2000

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    253
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    "Fantastic Story with Great Context"

    This is a great story about the company and the man who did the trading. It also provides a very nice description of what was happening with CDO's, the housing market, and Wall Street. You will understand what happened after listing to this. You will also wonder how the big companies did not see it coming much sooner.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Williams St. Croix, Virgin Islands United States 05-08-14
    Michael Williams St. Croix, Virgin Islands United States 05-08-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely amazing!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Greatest Trade Ever to be better than the print version?

    I did not read this before I listened so I can't comment on if the audio version is better or not.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Had to be John Paulson. I liked everyone described, eve the "bad guys". Close to the best book I've listened to yet. On the edge of my seat the whole time. Even though we know how it ended, the uncertainty of the trade given the irrational exuberance of the hoards, keeps you wondering if they would persevere. Hats off!

    Some may say this guy profited from an unfortunate circumstance but that is not the case at all. He saw the pendulum, calculated the motion and correctly made assumptions on it's movement. Absolutely Brilliant.


    Have you listened to any of Marc Cashman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Marc was great.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Don't give up on your conviction. The delicate line between insanity and reality when holding a rigid line against the popular view is a difficult one to navigate. To do so and achieve a coup d'eta on the worlds most powerful financial market, words cannot describe.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen once, allow to steep. Repeat. This lesson is repeating itself again as I type. I wonder how short people's memory really is. I wonder what John thinks of this market today?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alistair AucklandNew Zealand 03-21-10
    Alistair AucklandNew Zealand 03-21-10 Member Since 2009
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    "SImply mesmerizing"

    Listening to this story captivated my weekend, I got sucked in and could not detach myself from my iPod.
    I had been a keen observer of the sub prime meltdown, but now I see so much more of the background, rationale and to a certain extent the culprits to this hideous crime that has scarred so much of the US social landscape.
    To see the blindness shown by so many to the looming disaster seems easy with 20/20 hindsight, I only hope that more people read this to appreciate the madness that pervaded this event in our history.
    The book is brilliant - well read and excellently written - top marks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Philip
    Stockbridge, United Kingdom
    3/19/10
    Overall
    "Very interesting"

    A good listen, but i left out a couple of fundemental aspects which make the trade even more special.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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