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Fatal Risk: A Cautionary Tale of AIG's Corporate Suicide

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  135 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Long-listed for the FT & Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2011

The true story of how risk destroys, as told through the ongoing saga of AIG

From the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the subject of the financial crisis has been well covered. However, the story central to the crisis-that of AIG-has until now remained largely untold. Fatal Risk:

Kindle Edition, 367 pages
Published (first published March 3rd 2011)
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Christina Gombar
You don't have to be an insurance/financial nerd to get this book.

This is the story behind the story of the financial crash. Everyone who thinks they've been hoodwinked by the government, Goldman Sachs, or AIG should read it.

I worked at AIG for 25 years ago and probably learned more about how the world works in my first week than in four years of college.

When I read in 2005 that legendary CEO Hank Greenberg was out, I thought, there goes the company. Actually, there went the US economy. This bo
Surely one of the better informed books on the crisis. A more technical read that delves more deeply into AIG's operations and the sort of trades they were putting on. The specificity of the subject means Boyd isn't writing a broad structural critique of the system although he does throw in some comments on this front in the epilogue. First and foremost it is a narrative of how AIG crossed over from insurance -- the underwriting of risks -- to finance -- the trading of risk. It is enormously inf ...more
Dustin Byer
Jul 02, 2011 Dustin Byer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boyd did a fantastic job of explaining AIGs history and presented a compelling analysis of the both the institutional and personal drivers that led to the decisions that resulted in the collapse of AIG.

However, the story-telling aspect of this "Tale" really fell flat. The presentation was choppy, and ultimately distracting. Though probably unavoidable given the subject matter, parts of this book is not readily accessible to those who only have a surface familiarity with derivatives, securitizati
Nov 27, 2011 todd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a history of how Wall Street went astray, with emphasis on AIG's Financial Products Group. The big themes are all well stated and the section on how Elliot Spitzer abused his position as AG of New York is worth the price of the book alone as perhaps the biggest cautionary tale. I give the book only two stars because of the soft gloves treatment of Hank Greenberg. Greenberg was forced out of his lifetime leadership position at AIG and then events exploded. The timing was coincidence. The ...more
Rob Trump
I don't buy the hagiography of Greenberg here or the demonization of Spitzer - the latter is particularly hard to take in a chapter that details clearly criminal behavior on AIG's part. I'm also not sure Boyd knows who his audience is for this book - if you make it through the first 150 pages you certainly don't need the explanation (on page 149) of what a short sale is. Outside those two large caveats, this is full of incredibly well-researched anecdotes and detail.
Michael Webb
Sep 07, 2014 Michael Webb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well done, and very readable
Jun 09, 2011 Benjamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only beef with the book is the cumbersome sentence structure. I shouldn't complain because mine is probably no better (if not worse) but at times the embedded clauses made sentences hard to follow.

And that is my only beef. The book did a great job of telling the history of AIG and how they got themselves involved in the mortgage mess. It is my hope that policy makers read this book to better understand what happened.
Jan 21, 2012 Vastine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the collapse of AIG during the Fall of 2008. The first third is filled with a history of the insurance company and explanations of the financial transactions that led to the largest bailout of the financial crisis. The book picks up steam in the final third as things fall apart. Not always an easy read but very informative if you want to know why the crash happened.
John Mackessy
While the book had some good facts and stories, the sentence structure was inconsistent. I felt like sentences were too long and trying to capture multiple thoughts with attempts at foreshadowing. It made the book difficult to read. I have read many books about the financial crisis and felt that this book did not materially add to my understanding of the events of 2008.
Rebecca Dawson-ryan
very interesting read, if a bit of a slog at times
Christopher Culp
Aug 17, 2012 Christopher Culp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
I have no idea how accurate the book is in places, but it's a very well-written book and a compelling read. There are various editorial comments the author makes with which I personally disagree, but they are not disguised as facts and you either agree with them or not. Either way, the book is a fascinating history of AIGFP. It was difficult to put down.
Apr 20, 2011 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this fine. Something to read on the treadmill. If you don't like a trite expressions like "Kabuki" referencing lawyers defense tactics, "Rock Ribbed Republicans" and other tiresome and unoriginal phrasing, you'll be annoyed. I say, the guy is a numbers guy, not a literary aspirant.
Aug 18, 2011 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Quite technical and I would think dense in parts for people not familiar with the language of finance. Also the language is very 'journalistic'! Deals well with an amazing financial disaster exploring the many facets of the AIG debacle and the credit crisis of 2008.
Aug 05, 2015 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit disorganized, as it jumps back & forth in time & isn't always clear about which company is being referred to, but the story is good and I was able to get the information I needed from it.
Aug 24, 2011 Aharon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Imagine how many stars it would have gotten if they'd proofread past page 82.
Jan 06, 2013 Bill marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: don-t-read
This book is unreadable!

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