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All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  4,840 Ratings  ·  383 Reviews
The "New York Times" bestseller hailed as "the best business book of 2010" ("Huffington Post").
As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?
According to Bethany
ebook, 416 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Portfolio (first published November 16th 2010)
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Feb 06, 2011 Jean rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Along with Michael Lewis' "The Big Short" this is a must-read if you want to understand the recent financial crisis. The authors also did "The Smartest Guys in the Room" about the Enron scandal, and I found that book both enlightening and interesting. The story paints a picture of a true financial bubble. Anyway, maybe I finally understand CDOs and derivatives. Maybe.
It's a chilling story, and I found myself horrified many times. The worst was reading about synthetic CDO's, which were like zomb
Mal Warwick
Jan 02, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time, not so long ago, really -- it was 1999 -- there was a group of three exceedingly smart men whom Time Magazine called The Committee to Save the World. In fact, these three men -- Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin -- seemed to think they were the smartest people in the whole wide world. Together, they had put in place the economic policies of the Clinton Administration, and, boy, did things look rosy then, back in 1999, with a big budget surplus and the Dow Jones av ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Trudi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Shakespeare wrote: Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here. I'm going to zombify this sentiment just a tad by saying what I know to be true: There is no more room in Hell, and the Devils now walk the earth. Oh yes...they do. Is there any doubt? Little ones and big ones, all spread out like an infection. And if there's a cure to wiping them off the face of the planet and sending them back to Hell it's yet to be implemented because apparently it takes balls and brains and a pretty reliable mora
May 02, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
This is a good survey of the 2007-08 financial meltdown and the events leading up to it. The world of mortgage finance is arcane and to begin with, and it was made even more arcane by Wall Street’s groovy new inventions. Joe Nocera (NY Times business reporter) and Bethany McClean (The Smartest Guys in the Room, Enron..) take on the task of transforming that world into a compelling story and succeed, mostly.

My only criticism of the book would be that it never takes a step back from the events to
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
I must profess at the outset that I have a bit of a nerdy girl-crush on Bethany McClean. She is everything I wish I could be: Intelligent, articulate, well-versed on topics of financial and economic complexity, and a respected journalist. She's also very beautiful, but I am what I am so far as that is concerned.

I continue to read as much as I can about the Crisis of 2008. Maybe it's because I am unemployed and grow more and more bitter with each day? Maybe I'd like to be able to rail against Wa
This is a pretty detailed history of how the 2008 Financial Crisis occurred, recommended by a friend (thanks Brandon!). If you want something a bit simpler and more gripping, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine is simplified and boiled down to the stories of a few people who made money betting the meltdown would happen. That one's good too, but this one has the tracking down of developments and choices over 30+ years that led to exactly what happened.

I actually can't think of any signific
Dec 30, 2013 Felix rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider this to be the best book on the financial crisis, edging out Nouriel Roubini's _Crisis Economics_ and significantly better than Michael Lewis's excellent _Big Short_. Roubini excels more at explaining more of the economics in systemic big-picture terms and also laying out reform proposals to prevent the next crisis, but overreaches quite a bit with the latter and reads a bit more like a textbook due to a lack of characters and narrative. Lewis has plenty of narrative, concentrating on ...more
Roderick Hart
Oct 09, 2011 Roderick Hart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is subtitled ‘Unmasking The Men Who Bankrupted The World’, which is exactly what the authors try to do. I have seen it referred to as if it were a crime novel with a direct writing style and a gripping narrative. If criminal incompetence is a crime, then much of the activity described is criminal, and the prose is as direct as it can be given the subject. But as a read it is more engrossing than gripping, though we can’t blame the authors for failing to achieve the impossible. They are ...more
Mary Jo
Oct 31, 2012 Mary Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The latest in books regarding the financial crisis. Not much new to be added . It is still amazing to me that no CEO 's, traders, no one from the rating agencies or the regulators are in jail. It is pretty apparent that everyone know what was going on, that fraud was occurring and no one did a thing, Somehow the people losing houses Were the only losers . Goldman Sachs betted against their own clients - and won (or lost less than they should ). The ratings agencies perpetuated fraud, loan origi
Oct 11, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a number of books on the financial crises and, for a layperson, think I have a pretty good grasp of what exactly happened. However, it never really *clicked* until I read this one. I had the vocabulary but it still seemed abstract. The Big Short was easy to understand but too anecdotal. To Big To Fail was an amazing play-by-play of the actual crisis but pretty scant on the underlying causes. 13 Bankers was somehow forgettable (though in fairness, I read it start to finish on a plane to ...more
Lisa Cindrich
Well. Just the fact that I was at all able to understand what was going on as the authors described structured investment vehicles and synthetic CDOs and credit default swaps and piggyback mortgages demonstrates the admirable clarity of their writing. And somehow, as they traced 30 years of gathering disaster in the financial markets (with particular emphasis on the role played by subprime mortgages), they managed to imbue the narrative with tension. Does it sound crazy to say that I actually st ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What surprised me in reading this book wasn't the excessive greed of the Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, or the Goldman Sachs of the world, nor the just-as-excessive greed of the customer-facing lenders who came up with all manner of mortgage offerings to convince Americans to buy a home, nor, finally, the gullibility, lack of fiscal responsibility, etc., of the house-buying consumers. It was the fact that the delusion of the financial services leaders (otherwise quite intelligent people) ran so deep th ...more
This books details the actions of the major organizations that contributed to the housing bubble that burst in 2008. Many have the opinion that the financial institutions are hard to regulate and that crises are hard to identify before they happen. After reading this book it seems disingenuous to believe that. If one looks at all the major economic scandals in the past it always come down to three things. 1. Deregulation 2. lack of oversight or enforcement by a scrupulous entity 3. greed.

This bo
Lloyd Fassett
May 05, 2015 Lloyd Fassett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Joy Nocera from the New York Times contributed to this, which is why I picked it up. This is a fantastic book about financial services through the cause of the housing crisis to the collapse. I thought I was going to quit it early on, but then it grabbed me and kept gathering steam right through the end.

What makes it fantastic is that, while it never talks about it, it's the human element that encourages the system in bits and pieces to create an overall crisis. Systems are great, but humans go
Adam Robinson
Feb 27, 2016 Adam Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book attempts to look into the major financial players (AIG, Fanny Mac and Freddie Mac, Merril Lynch, Goldman Sachs) during the financial crisis to try to answer the question: How did all of this happen? To that end its a much more in depth read than Lewis's The Big Short. But due to the technical nature of all of the financial dealings as well as the much wider scope of the book it's not as enjoyable of a read. But it's still important. This book more than any other shows how hubris and gr ...more
Kai Palchikoff
The definitive narrative of two decades of folly that led to the financial crisis. 'Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.' -Shakespeare, The Tempest Before the dust even settled, competing theories emerged to explain the financial crisis. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, clueless homeowners, or timid regulators? Or on foreign culprits in London, Beijing, or Tehran? Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed bu ...more
Jay Connor
Dec 14, 2010 Jay Connor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We fell for our own scam.” This quote from John Breit, the Merrill-Lynch risk manager, captures the core absurdity of the run up to and implosion that was the 2008 financial crisis. Here is a story, so wonderfully recounted in the excellent “All the Devils Are Here,” of our major financial institutions creating a whole range of dubious investment vehicles for their own enrichment. Yet, when these investments, soon labeled “toxic assets,” began to fall like a house of cards, the smart guys were ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this book, and it hit nearly all of them. The authors did an excellent job walking through the histories of how many of the players came to be in their powerful yet precarious positions. The Fannie Mae history was very strong, and it was good to read about the history of the ratings agencies, which most books have hardly touched on.

The authors also expose themselves as slightly right-leaning, though politically they do a good job excoriating both parties. The history of laws
All the Devils are Here is a compendious but anecdotal history of the real estate bubble and financial crisis of the early 2000s in the United States. Unlike some of the other books on the subject, the authors discuss the mortgage originators, such as Countrywide, as well as the Wall Street firms that repackaged the mortages into various sorts of derivatives, such as Goldman Sachs, Lehmann, Bear Sterns and Merrill Lynch (which was bought by Bank of America). The authors also give a good deal of ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the housing bubble, or corporate management
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: author interviewed on Jon Stewart
The companies involved in the financial crisis: Countrywide, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Ameriquest, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns, didn't simply sprout horns and tails one night The elements personified in the title are instead a list of financial tools, events, and attitudes that didn't just coalesce but rather evolved in almost predictable though unintended ways. Their growth was part of a monstrous symbiosis.

Readers with a non-finance background should not be dismayed by the parade of ever more
Apr 17, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, economics
I've read Michael Lewis' "The Big Short", Broke, U.S.A. by Gary Rivlin, "How the West was Lost" by Dambisa Moyo and now "All The Devils Are Here" by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. This book was dense: I had to read it in small pieces, and did a lot of back-referencing. The set-up was long and dry. I skipped from Chapter 5 to Chapter 17, and back-tracked to the stuff in-between to make the story move more quickly.

Obsessed with trying to understand the financial meltdown, I keep reading these boo
Aug 05, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustive recreation of the perfect storm leading to the sub-prime meltdown. It is fascinating and while most of the stories come from the people involved and/or other books written on the subject (an endless supply) some of the work relies on information "from someone who was there" or an unnamed "executive familiar" with one meeting or another - a few too many of those references for me but it is a nitpick. If nothing else, reading the book confirmed a few opinions I have formed over time: ...more
As a database administrator, we think in terms of maximum stability and how to predict failure so we can neutralize it. The cool and sexy are distant concerns. So I guess I lack much sympathy for the traders looking to maximize profits and neutralizing the risk desks.

If a model looks great, then you missed something important. Something that will bring it all crashing down.

Also, this book made me mull on this quote:
"All these voices on the outside were saying, 'You are not relevant,'" Mudd late
Jun 16, 2013 JC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: checked-out, audio, 2013
This is by far the most comprehensive look at the financial crisis that I've read to date. The underpinnings of the 2007 crisis started as far as 30 years before the actual crisis hit as companies and people began to think of clever ways to remove the risk that they were taking on. Who is to blame for all of this? That is left for the reader to decide as this book just lays out fact after fact of who did what and how they contributed to the crisis.

Another great thing about this book is that you
Jun 15, 2011 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A clear, yet wonky, overview of the key events leading to the financial crash. My moral from the book is: 1. a complete lack of desire to regulate, nor the competence to do so; 2. an overestimation of the intelligence of everyone involved in finance. I guess #2 is important, because if free markets are going to be stable, everyone needs to not be an idiot. A few key idiots, or groups of idiots, sprinkled around finance will be able to destabilize everything. Even though firms like Goldman, Pauls ...more
Sep 03, 2011 Michaela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Should be mandatory reading. It is a fine line indeed between delusion, venality, and outright corruption. Props to two women, Brooksley Born and Sheila Bair, for sounding the warning bell despite being ignored and accused of being strident. Explains how innovation (collateralized debt obligation), usury (subprime mortgage market), immorality, arrogance, greed, leverage (no skin in the game) and black swans (low probability/high impact events) when mixed together bite you in the ass a ...more
For anyone trying to get an understanding of the issues and the main players involved in the sub-prime mortgage financial meltdown, this is a great book to read. It digs deep into the root causes, of which there are many, of the crisis and gives great insight into the workings of the investment banks and the people who ran them, the securitization industry, Fannie & Freddie, the US Treasury, the big banks, and the mortgage originators. The tale unfolds revealing how the bad decisions of lead ...more
Maureen M
Nov 04, 2015 Maureen M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An exceptional work of journalism, "All the Devils are Here" lays out just how greed and regulatory failure conspired to bring down a large part of the world's economy in 2008. The authors trace the debacle from the creation of the new financial instruments that allowed investment banks to transform subprime mortgages to be package into investments that appeared to be much more valuable than they were. Eventually, all the players line up -- from the local mortgage writers to the appraisers to th ...more
Aug 09, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bethany McLean, author of the behind the scenes story of Enron entitled "The Smartest Guys in the Room" returns and teams up with NYT's Joe Nocera. Together they give perhaps the most comprehensive and panoramic look into the causes of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. No better title could be found than this famous quote from Shakespeare's "The Tempest".

The authors' objectivity is evidenced by the fact that unlike other writers who have penned purely political op-Ed's to confirm their own phi
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we're all little pawns 1 18 Dec 27, 2010 08:19PM  
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Bethany McLean is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine, and known for her work on the Enron scandal. She had been an editor at large and columnist for Fortune magazine.

McLean grew up in Hibbing and received her BA in English and mathematics at Williams College in 1992. After college and prior to joining Fortune, she worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs.
More about Bethany McLean...

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“People also felt that a great crime had been committed, yet there was not going to be a great punishment.” 3 likes
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