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Publisher's Summary

A masterful account of today's money culture, showing how the underpricing of risk leads to catastrophe. When it comes to markets, the first deadly sin is greed. Michael Lewis is our jungle guide through five of the most violent and costly upheavals in recent financial history: the crash of '87, the Russian default (and the subsequent collapse of Long-Term Capital Management), the Asian currency crisis of 1999, the Internet bubble, and the current sub-prime mortgage disaster.

With his trademark humor and brilliant anecdotes, Lewis paints the mood and market factors leading up to each event, weaves contemporary accounts to show what people thought was happening at the time, and then, with the luxury of hindsight, analyzes what actually happened and what we should have learned from experience.

As he proved in Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, and Moneyball, Lewis is without peer in his understanding of market forces and human foibles. He is also, arguably, the funniest serious writer in America.

©2008 Michael Lewis; (P)2008 Simon & Schuster Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Cash
  • Plano, TX, United States
  • 01-03-09

Good - But you need to know what you are getting.

What the description doesn't tell you is this is a series of articles written over the past 20 years - many of them not by Lewis. If this will annoy you, steer clear.

With that said, there are some really good articles here. As for many of them being 'old', the value they provide is perspective. It will be years before we have perspective on the 2008 melt down. It's a bit easier to have perspective of the financial crisis of '87, '97, and 2000. With these, we can start having some with the 2008 situation.

Lewis, selects articles written in the boom preceding the bust and in the midst of the crisis. His narrative adds his own analysis and perspective around these articles.

The primary themes and lessons of these events are: 1) The markets are very complicated and very few people understand them - even after the fact. 2) Often these busts are caused by groups attempting to exploit a condition supported by market technicalities. 3) People often believe the current event is "the end of the world" or the "the end of Capitalism". 4) The environment of the the Global Economy seems to be increasing the frequency and strength of these boom bust cycles. 5) As painful as they are, they don't foretell the end of the world and we'll be better off when we recognize this reality not Panic!

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sheldon
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 01-01-09

Rehash

I love Michael Lewis but this is a poor effort. It's just a compendium of articles from Lewis and others over the last 20 years. Interesting maybe, but there's nothing new and it feels as if he is just taking advantage of the current financial mess rather than contributing something original.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Insightful but Don't Miss His Sequel

Michael Lewis is at his best writing about the business and personalities he has known first hand from his Wall Street experience. This book paints an in-depth and disturbing picture of the Wall Street "doomsday machines," as Lewis aptly calls them. What we see in the "sub-prime" collapse are our major investment banks--with a few notable exceptions--so driven by competitive and ego-centered pressures for ever-larger profits and bonuses that prudent and responsible management oversight was abandoned. The shame in this case is that the consequences of their irresponsibility fell not only on the banks' shareholders but on the country as a whole, because the painful day of reckoning has wreaked havoc throughout the credit markets. It is abundantly clear from this account that business as usual the old Wall Street way can no longer be tolerated by the country, and reform is inevitable. Let us hope the reform is sensible and responsible.

I gave the book only three stars, because the best chapters (by Lewis himself) are already available on the internet. Further, his best piece on the subprime crisis was not included in the book. You can find it, however, on the Conde Nast, Portfolio.com website--an article in the December 2008 edition, entitled, appropriately, "The End."

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Recycled content

Nothing significant to add to other reviewers - Audible just requires me to review in order to add my rating. This is an interesting compilation of sometimes antiquated articles. Nothing new. I love Lewis' work, but cannot recommend this specific compilation.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-21-16

Just a Hint of Lewis Inside all the Panic

"No one believes the original assumptions anymore. It's hard to believe that anyone-- yes, including me-- ever believed it."
- John Seo, Fermat Capital, Quoted in 'Panic' by Michael Lewis

I'm not giving this book 3 stars because the writing is bad. Much of the writing is very, very good. I'm just giving it three stars because it technically is only an anthology edited by Michael Lewis. It is just a a collection of stories written by the author and many other financial writers divided into Four major parts/panics:

1. 1987 Black Monday
2. 1997 Asian financial crisis
3. 2000 Dot-com collapse
4. 2007-8 Global Financial Colapse

Lewis, apparently, got the idea of this anthology from a discussion with Dave Eggers. Dave offered up a "McSweeney's Intern" to compile and I'd assume edit and get permissions, Lewis would contribute an introduction and some transition writing, and obviously, some of his own pieces from each of these four panics. The book's proceeds would go to 826 National to fund relief in New Orleans (you can't strike a bargain with Eggers without it ending up benefiting someone) and boom! Book.

Anyway, if I was reading/listening to it as a textbook, I'd give it four stars, but it just seems a bit too easy, too forced, not enough original Lewis material to really give it much beyond the three stars I gave it. If you want great writing on panics, I'd just go read some of Lewis' original long-form pieces, books (Liar's Poker, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt), etc. If you want a survey from a bunch of good financial writers on recent panics, well ok, this one will do it and the money does go to a good place.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Cut and Paste

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps if you are 18 years old and did not markets had crashes before your time you might get a bit of history.

What could Michael Lewis have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Well he could have wrote a book. It is just an anthology of his and other people articles. I think Micheal Lewis need some money, so he photo copied some articles out of Fortune, the Wall Street Journal and Barron's then glued them into a book. If you read newspapers during the major crashes in the last few years you already read this book.

What didn’t you like about Blair Hardman and Jesse Boggs ’s performance?

Fine.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes Audible has good return policy

Any additional comments?

Waste of time, after two great books, Liars Poker and the Big Short the author has run dry.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Henry
  • United States
  • 09-26-12

Abridged books

What disappointed you about Panic!?

I always feel like I'm missing something when I read an abridged book. Nobody's fault but mine, I do like the author tho.

Has Panic! turned you off from other books in this genre?

No

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Blair Hardman and Jesse Boggs ?

Just one narrator please!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Disappointing

I normally love Michael Lewis, but this book left me short. The problem here is that this wasn't really a Lewis book it is more like a well done journalism thesis or academic work. The comparison of the pieces written at the different times is interesting in a big picture way but reading the articles themselves get a bit repetitive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • boca raton, FL, USA
  • 02-14-09

Why Bother

Essentially a series of reprints of various articles no new material huge deissapointment after reading Liars Poker

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not the whole story

Ok, but Lewis should stick to what he's good at - reporting. Not offer opinion and not reprint clueless authors e.g. Paul Krugman. Looking at the role of the Federeral Reserve would have been good. The book says people were drunk on money - so who provided the alcohol?