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
"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.)
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.
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