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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  85,057 Ratings  ·  5,309 Reviews
From the author of The Blind Side and Moneyball, The Big Short tells the story of four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predict the credit and housing bubble collapse before anyone else. The film adaptation by Adam McKay (Anchorman I and II, The Other Guys) features Academy Award winners Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei; Academy Award nomin ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 16th 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 2009)
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Popular Answered Questions

Keith Definitely Too Big To Fail, but also try Fools Gold by Gillian Tett. It's a bit heavy in parts but the story it tells is mind-blowing
Virginie I agree that there is a lot of swearing and some of the characters in the book are not necessarily role models. However, it is a detailed and accurate…moreI agree that there is a lot of swearing and some of the characters in the book are not necessarily role models. However, it is a detailed and accurate description of the RMBS crisis. My 12-years-old boy is currently reading it. He cannot understand it all but he is learning about finance in an entertaining way.(less)

Community Reviews

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Stephen
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The Subprime Mortgage Crisis...it’s too easy to just lay blame on a cabal of greed-constipated Wall Street sphincters who unzipped their consciences, yanked down their morals and dropped a huge deuce on the U.S. financial system.

In many ways it’s TRUE and it feels REALLY good to say...but it’s too easy.

There were clearly some major crooks, scumbags and swindlers involved in this monetary atrocity...a number of whom should have been taken out to the desert and shot, in my very pissed off opini
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Jeffrey Keeten
”The ability of Wall Street traders to see themselves in their success and their management in their failure would later be echoed, when their firms, which disdained the need for government regulation in good times, insisted on being rescued by government in bad times. Success was an individual achievement; failure was a social problem.”

The real estate market in the United States after several years of frantic growth peaked in 2004, which was the year I decided to start buying properties. I was
...more
Steve
Jan 26, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original review: May 4, 2010

Lewis has a talent for making his readers feel smart. Taking in his best works, you’re granted kinship with the elite. Like a trader at Salomon Brothers, you might laugh at the chumps in the bond market; or like the money-constrained boss of the Oakland A’s, you might cobble together a winning line-up by way of statistics; or like a genius of modern day football, you would recognize the importance of a great left tackle in protecting your quarterback’s blind side. Now
...more
Elyse
Dec 25, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: Christmas greetings to those of you who celebrate!
Paul and I are seeing this movie today!
I'm guessing the movie will be great!

Hasn't everyone read this book? In my area --extra copies could be found at bus stops around town -on tables in Star Bucks -
I wouldn't have been surprised if books were added to people's grocery bags. At one time this was the 'it' book to read.
"The Big Short" was everywhere. Michael Lewis became a popular-household name....

Hugely entertaining and informative lo
...more
Lorin Kleinman
Dec 13, 2011 Lorin Kleinman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remember that point, in recent years, when we all started to notice something strange? Houses were getting more and more expensive, interest rates were dropping more and more, and most of us knew someone who had no money, but was able to get a huge mortgage. And then there were all the stories of people buying houses with no money down and interest-only payments for three years. How exactly were these people expecting to make principal payments in three years? And why was anyone lending them ...more
Kemper
Jun 06, 2016 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, bidness, 2016

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.”
- Warren Buffett

Some of the most essential financial lessons I ever learned came from comic books back in the ‘90s when a bubble fueled by idiotic speculation on crappy books marketed as ‘collector’s editions’ eventually burst. It left me with several copies of all the variant covers for Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, and the realization that something is only as valuable as what someone will actually pay you for it. It was also e
...more
Rachel C.
This book made me want to vomit, then take a bath in a tub of bleach. Not because it's not well-written, but because the story is so repugnant and grotesque.

Lewis' last book "The Blind Side" told the stories of a lot of people who, when faced with impossible situations, chose to do the right thing and/or work harder. This book exclusively features people who were criminally stupid, those who were just flat-out criminals, and the scumbags who were smart enough to profit from it when the financial
...more
Robert Intriago
It was a good book, but it disappointed. I will tell you what let me down:

1. One of the reasons for the credit crash was the lenght of the easy monetary policy pursued by the FED and Greenspan after 9/11. Mr. Lewis devotes about one paragraph towards the end of the book to it and Mr. Greenspan is only mentioned three times, even though his policies were the cause of the housing bubble, my opinion.

2. I found the book repetitious. He tells the same story from three different points of view, even t
...more
Jason
Apr 19, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to SHOUT during this review. Now I finally know the sleaziest, oily, untruthful, and arrogant class of people in the US--financial brokers at the big Wall Street investment banks. The Big Short is a rare look deep inside the machinery that broke the spine of our real estate industry. This is not the more common bottom-up look at the mortgage loan sweatshop industry; instead, this is a top-down view from the rarefied air above 20 stories at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merryl Lynch, JP M ...more
Trish
Mar 27, 2010 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Lawd. This book took my breath away. I remember what I was doing at several critical moments described in the book and to have been so unaware makes me breathless. I learned things and feel oddly vindicated and cheated at the same time. I knew dumb people were making money with my money: vindicated. I thought some people in the government might be smart enough to realize what happened and know what to do: cheated.

Michael Lewis played two roles in writing this book about the subprime loan debacle
...more
Steve Sarner
Feb 08, 2016 Steve Sarner rated it it was amazing
This book propelled me back to a conversation from the fall of 2005. I was at my son’s junior peewee football game on a warm autumn day talking to some other dads at halftime. The conversation was on how people were refinancing their homes at unheard of values and next to nothing interest rates. The group was a mix of men, some in real estate, a few newly minted mortgage brokers and some others of various professions and income levels. I recall, as the game resumed and the conversation wound ...more
Otis Chandler
Mar 22, 2011 Otis Chandler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely well-written account of the 2008 financial collapse. It explained complex ideas like subprime mortgage bonds and CDO's in a clear way, and almost read like a fast paced thriller.

Essentially it seems that a bad ratings system and human greed created an economy that fostered the creation of a lot of bad debts, that eventually went bad, and caused a lot of big companies to go under (Lehman brothers, Bear Sterns), or require a bailout (Goldman Sachs, AIG). This is the real crime. These
...more
Carly
May 30, 2016 Carly rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Achievement unlocked: I finally understand what the term "shorting" actually means.

Lewis provides a thorough and interesting take on the financial crisis, and now I think I finally begin to understand what caused the world economy to tank. As Lewis notes, there was plenty of greed to go around, but it was the criminal irresponsibility of the bankers, the investors, the bond traders, that really created the opportunity for such large-scale corruption.

I found this book particularly difficult bec
...more
Amy
Jan 24, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Big Short, Michael Lewis outlines the causes of the housing crisis (which led to the larger Financial Crisis of 2007-2010), and tells the story of three small investment companies (basically four different investors) who saw it coming, bet against it, and made millions of dollars in the process. I really enjoyed reading about these individuals who foresaw the coming doom. Great human interest stories.

I think one of the greatest take-away learnings for me is the explanation why nannies who
...more
Susan
Happy thought for the day:

At least I don't have to include a stint as an analyst for Moody's or Standard & Poor's to my list of professional shortcomings.
Mike W
Sep 03, 2010 Mike W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides an interesting and enjoyable glimpse into the world of the Wall Street financiers who helped to create the recent financial crisis and the savvy few who recognized the bubble before it had burst.

As a piece of economic analysis Lewis's work has serious flaws. While he sees correctly that moral hazard was central to creating the crisis Lewis looks for the moral hazard in the wrong place: arguing, oddly, that the transformation of Wall Street firms from private partnerships into
...more
Ms.pegasus
Oct 05, 2015 Ms.pegasus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the financial crisis
Michael Lewis turns the 2008 financial meltdown into a compelling narrative about two very smart, very abrasive skeptics who realized the juggernaut Wall Street had created was doomed to self-destruct, and worked out how to cash in big — the big short.

Steve Eisman began his career as a corporate lawyer. Eisman was an outspoken curmudgeon. Stupidity bored him. Tact was not one of his gifts. When others spoke it looked like he was sampling rather than listening. It's difficult to imagine how he ma
...more
Mike
Oct 31, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, business, library
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine is more than 5 stars. It deserves the highest rank for the clear explanation of how to answer this question: “How do you explain to an innocent citizen of the free world the importance of a credit default swap on a double-A tranche of a subprime-backed collateralized debt obligation?” Not only will you be able to understand that arcane financial question, you will be riveted in the story Michael Lewis tells while you learn. Look, it is only 3 years to t ...more
Clif Hostetler
May 02, 2010 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This is the best description so far of the inside story about the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Reading this book is like riding a time machine back a couple years, walking into the Wall Street offices and asking them, "What in the world were you thinking?" The story is told from the view point of several investors who were betting against the sub-prime mortgage industry. But there were so few other people who saw it their way that they kept second guessing their position because they couldn't ...more
Elizabeth
Sep 23, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I might have a mini journalist's crush on Michael Lewis. First, that awesome article about Greek Monks pulverizing the financial system in Vanity Fair this month, now The Big Short. Lewis has an incredible ability to make unpalatable subjects such as credit default swaps fascinating. Anything related to economics is high on my "not interested" list. And I put the blame squarely on my high school economics teacher, a woman who insisted on pronouncing the world "equilibrium," ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Aug 19, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
50. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
reader: Jesse Boggs
published: 2010
format: 9 hr 29 min digital audiobook and 266 page hardcover
acquired: borrowed both from my library
read: listened to 87% May 5-17, read last 66 pages Aug 15-16
rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell, this about the bastards who got rich on the 2008 US subprime mortgage crash. Lewis is a really good at this stuff, so we learn to really like all these guys, as unpleasant as some of them are, and we learn to appreciate all the effort and kn
...more
Steve Lowe
Apr 21, 2011 Steve Lowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never did really come to like anyone in this book. Why? Because every person written about here was in essense a dirtball. The Big Short tells the story of the financial collapse of 2007-08, specifically the spectacular implosion of the subprime mortgage lending market.

On one side, you have the completely repellent folks dealing in the packaging and selling of subprime mortgages in a number of various forms. Subprime mortgages are loans made to people with very little chance of paying them bac
...more
Sairam Krishnan
Jan 22, 2016 Sairam Krishnan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread 1.

I first read The Big Short in 2012, fresh from Business School. It's important to note that I went to a different sort of school - a residential campus that leaned (sometimes alarmingly) to the left, and took great pains to instil in its students an ethical way of going about life. And coming from there, I read The Big Short as a vindication of what my professors had been trying to teach me. I enjoyed it, but I also knew and understood that somewhere in the story was a sceptre of cynic
...more
Bruce
Feb 04, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are convinced that Wall Street caused the 2007-2010 financial crisis, Michael Lewis’s book will reinforce your conviction. If you are sure that Wall Street is rigged against the average person, this book will support your conclusions. If you are positive that Wall Street functions only for the benefit of those in Big Finance, with little concern about the lives and fortunes of the middle class, this book will reinforce your sense of outrage. And if you have been appalled by the pain the ...more
Elaine
May 29, 2016 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Extremely readable and clear -- gripping without being more than it pretends to be (except for the overly dramatic subtitle). It's not the be all end all explanation of "what happened", but by looking through the eyes of outsiders, Lewis gives a lot of insight into what happened on the inside, without excessive pontification or moralizing.
David Lentz
Nov 22, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have great respect for the clarity and diligence that Michael Lewis brings to shed new light on the second greatest financial disaster in modern American history. He knows where to go to find the bones buried by people both who profited immensely from and were destroyed on Wall Street by the unsurpassed greed of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. I was intrigued by the creation of high-risk debt obligations consisting of packages of sub-prime mortages with teaser rates which blossomed so ...more
Frances Levy
Feb 19, 2012 Frances Levy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every intelligent person in America needs to read this book. Actually, it should be required reading.

By telling the story of the 2008 financial meltdown through the stories of a handful of people, Lewis manages to clarify and explain exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened (that would be unbridled greed of Wall Street banks and hedge funds. Duh.) The most enlightening revelation to me is Lewis's take on the rating agencies (Standard & Poor's and Moody's), which he charact
...more
TS Chan
Apr 17, 2016 TS Chan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Being a Capital Markets banker back in 2008, I did know about how the global financial crisis was precipitated by the subprime mortgage fiasco in the United States. However, I was not prepared to truly delve into the details of the one of the biggest financial frauds in history. I was thoroughly repulsed and disgusted by the investment bankers, traders and brokers of Wall Street, the writers of subprime mortgage loans (seriously it's ridiculous and completely unethical how the loans are structur ...more
L.A. Starks
Feb 19, 2016 L.A. Starks rated it it was amazing
This non-fiction account of the players and events behind the financial crisis of 2008, specifically banks spinning out derivatives whose risk they themselves didn't understand, was for me scarier than any horror movie.

Lewis explains how credit default swaps and synthetic options got so far out of control as people bet on an ever-rising housing market that the American financial system would have self-destructed but for the intervention of the government.

Having lived through the crisis, I well
...more
Scott Rhee
Mar 20, 2016 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, economy
“I think there is something fundamentally scary about our democracy. Because I think people have a sense that the system is rigged, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t.” ---Charlie Ledley

Michael Lewis’s book “The Big Short” is intense, fascinating, disturbing, and hilarious, and I only understood about 45% of it.

No, the book is not written in Aramaic or Pig Latin or Mandarin Chinese. It’s actually written in English, and while I actually understood all the words in the book, the order in which
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
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  • The End of Wall Street
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  • Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves
  • The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History
  • 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown
  • More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
  • How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities
  • Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
  • On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System
  • After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead
  • Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
  • The Myth of the Rational Market: Wall Street's Impossible Quest for Predictable Markets
  • Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
  • The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008
  • I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay
  • Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy
  • Den of Thieves
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Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
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“What are the odds that people will make smart decisions about money if they don't need to make smart decisions--if they can get rich making dumb decisions? The incentives on Wall Street were all wrong; they're still all wrong.” 37 likes
“The CDO was, in effect, a credit laundering service for the residents of Lower Middle Class America. For Wall Street it was a machine that turned lead into gold.” 18 likes
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