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Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity
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Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity

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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  1,352 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Featuring an exclusive interview with the author, America's poet laureate of capital (The Los Angeles Times)When it comes to markets, the first deadly sin is greed. In Panic!, #1 bestselling author Michael Lewis has chosen several pieces of brilliant journalism to illuminate the most violent and costly upheavals in recent financial history: the Crash of '87, the Russian De ...more
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Published December 30th 2008 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published December 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Interesting, well-chosen collection of newspaper and magazine pieces, a couple by the editor but most of them not, from before/during/after some recent business/$-related crises (oct. 1987 stock market crash, Asian markets crash late 90's, tech bubble of 2000 or so, housing bubble, subprime mortgages......). Nice balance in that it's not absolutely current, which means there is a chance with hindsight to get a better perspective on what happened, how bad it got, how long it took to recover, etc. ...more
Ann
Lewis believes that recent costly financial upheavals (crash of 1987, Russian default of 1987,, the Asian currency crisis of 1999, and the current subprime) were caused by a recurring problem of models underestimating the risk of rare events, thereby encouraging investors to take more chances than they rationally would.

It is difficult book to understand because it is collection of essays. Michael Lewis is the editor of the book, and did not write it. I was very disappointed that the book did no
...more
Adam
A collection of newspaper, magazine articles, book exceprts, etc that were originally published through out three main events in the recent history of finance:

1. Plummeting values of foreign currencies namely in Soviet Union and Asia
2. Warp speed growth of internet usage and dot com stock craze/crash
3. Housing bubble, mortgage backed derivatives, crashing home values

I did not read the 3rd part. Having already read "The Big Short" I thought more commentary by Micael Lewis was time spent on overki
...more
Trevor
The parts of this I liked the least were the parts where people, including the editor, decided it was time to do some satire. Obviously, there is nothing funnier than a good bit of satire. And over the years I’ve really enjoyed some very funny pieces of satire(I miss you Max Gillies). The problem is that, for it to be funny, satire needs to be the powerless laughing at the powerful. So, jokes about how the poor have hurt your stock portfolio by loosing their houses aren’t so much satire as, well ...more
Jen
I was initially disappointed when I realized this book I had hastily picked up at the library was an anthology and not a book written by Michael Lewis. I was hoping to read a Michael Lewis and see for myself why people swoon over his stuff (at least at the movies).

Once I got over my initial disappointment, I decided I actually liked the book. He describes four economics panics in our recent history. Although given that I had not received my first payment for the first, second, or third panic, I
...more
Kid
What's classic about this book is the misleading cover which barely acknowledges that Michael Lewis EDITED it and did not WRITE it. But it's for a good cause and publishers are struggling too I suppose. Just like this entire country.

This is a collection of articles that cover the biggest crashes in our recent history - the glutinous wallow in easy money followed by the shocked and devastated portraits of victims.

I found the initial articles about the 1987 crash to be nearly impossible to under
...more
Sophia
It wasn't necessarily terrible, but it certainly wasn't what i expected. Not as readable as other Michael Lewis productions, by far, and this was unequivocally attributed to the fact that in "Panic," he has essentially just curated a bunch of news articles and essays from the 1987, 1998, 2000, and 2008 financial boom/busts. Now, I've read enough financial/banking/wall street related books to know that the reason "Panic" wasn't readable for me is not because I don't understand the concepts, but r ...more
James
This book is a collection of about 50 magazine & newspaper articles patched together.
A few of them were written by Lewis.

I found the few by Lewis to be extremely insightful,
the others were a mixed bag.

At the end of the book Lewis poses the question that everybody should be asking:
Is wall street providing anything of value to America?

If wall st. is just going to be a casino where traders can make billion or trillion dollar bets on derivatives, and the traders can grab mega million dollar
...more
Wayne
I originally expected this book to be a great book for reading on the bus. It's a compilation of over 50 short exceprts from various past publications detailing the financial meltdowns that have happened in the past. It starts back during the 1987 crash and documents 3 other periods including the mst recent crash of 2008.

This book lives up to expectations that it is a good one to pick up and read a little at a time, but this is also it's downfall. I'm a fan of Lewis' previous works, but this boo
...more
Mark Ruzomberka
This book felt like a flashback episode of a tv show. You sit down on the couch and get ready to sink into a new episode of your favorite show and about 15 minutes into the show you realize all they are doing is flashbacks to episodes you've already seen. There is nothing wrong with this type of tv show or book if you know what to expect going in, but much of the complaints I've seen about Panic are that most folks think it is a "new" Michael Lewis book rather than an re-packaging flash back sty ...more
R. Andrew Lamonica
I generally like Michael Lewis's books, but this one was not my favorite. For one, it is not really a book but rather a collection of writings from before, during, and after each of the most recent US economic boom/bust cycles. Most of the articles are from other famous writers of note. I did find some interesting ideas in here, including (what I take to be) the main thesis.

One of these ideas that deserves more investigation than this book gave it was that sometimes boom/bust phases might actua
...more
Alex Allain
Michael Lewis is a great writer, but many of the essays in this book are by other authors and do not achieve his standard of excellence. In addition, some chapters in this book are extraordinarily boring technical discussions of specific trades and market numbers--interesting, perhaps, for a dutiful historian, but tedious for someone looking for trends.

That said, there are some really interesting stories here. Lewis's discussion of the culture clash between The Professors--analytical hedge fund
...more
Tom Emory Jr.
AUDIO -- Michael Lewis, author of "The Blind Side" and "Liar's Poker," tries to put some perspective on the on-going financial meltdown by collecting in book (and audio) form articles written about the various past financial meltdowns and how they are similar and different from today's situation. Some of the pieces were written by Lewis for Bloomberg News and other outlets while others were done by other writers for The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, etc. If anything, "Panic" puts the lie to t ...more
Dave
I have to preface this review with the fact that I have never been much interested in the world of finance, but I have always been interested in complexity and chaos. But I have been an entreprenour for as long as I can remember, and I clearly remember the day in October 1986 when the markets crashed. It was all, for me anyway, quite distant. I had no shares, I cared little for the world of huge business. It was all paper money to me.



I was in London during the Asian meltdown and started reading
...more
Jim
As an overview of several recent financial panics, you're left wondering just when it will happen again. Maybe it is right now (June 2012) with the Euro possibly about to collapse, although it's hard to see who's making money out of that situation. But rest assured, somebody is, and working hard to increase it. This book is an anthology of various pieces of writing about several recent panics - Black Monday of the Eighties, the Internet boom and the most recent sub-prime scandal. I found most of ...more
Clif Hostetler
I was hoping that by reading about the folly of others I could be a bit wiser for the current financial crisis. But I still don't feel wise. This book does provide some relief for today's remorseful investor by telling stories of others who lost more.

"Everything, in retrospect, is obvious. But if everything were obvious, authors of histories of financial folly would be rich . . ." It is incredible how naive and stupid some of the pre-panic articles are. But on the other hand, many of the post-p
...more
Jill
Although the publishers do their best to obscure it, this book is not by Michael Lewis it is edited by Michael Lewis.

Panic is an anthology of articles and book excerpts from leading financial journalists before, during, and after four major "financial crises" of the past three decades: the stock market crash of 1987, the collapse of the Asian Tigers and the Russian default of 1997-1998, the dot-com bubble of the late nineties into 2000, and finally the mortgage crisis of 2005 to 2008.

The theme o
...more
Daniel
My recommendation is to read this book at the same time as you read "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, as this book by Michael Lewis shows definitive examples of improbable events crashing down on those investors and financial entities who miscalculate risk either by design or by naivety.

The book contains interesting morsels from financial reporters to Nobel Laureates on past events like the Asian Currency Crisis, The Russian Bankruptcy and the fall
...more
CV Rick
The first surprise for me was that this book is an anthology of articles previously published in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc. At first I was disappointed by this structure but then it became clear that Michael Lewis was setting up a clever foundation to lead the reader into the current financial crisis. People did see what was going on and there were warnings, it's just that the system has blinders on for two reasons - the first is that short-term gains are rewarded ...more
MsSmartiePants ...like the candy...
OK, so we've been overwhelmed by media information on the current recession. That doesn't mean I'm tired of it and not trying to understand why things are the way they are. Well, I am a bit tired, but more importantly? I want to LEARN so that I can make informed decisions about the future!
Reaching back in time beginning in 1987, Michael Lewis is diagramming the financial markets and his opinion on choices made which have carried us to this particular point in history. It helps that I lived thro
...more
Todd N
An anthology of magazine articles, newspaper articles, and blog posts chronicling four recent market panics put together by McSweeney interns and Michael Lewis. All proceeds go to charity, though I got my copy from the library.

These are the four recent market panics:
1. Black Monday 1987

I was in college during this crash. I remember my college roommate watching TV and getting very upset that he lost the meager savings (from our summer co-op jobs) that he invested in mutual funds. I thought he was
...more
Scott
I picked this up because it was written by the same guy that did Moneyball, and lo and behold it turns out he started life writing about finance. This surprised me at first (for some reason), but it makes perfect sense if you think about it since Moneyball is basically about, well, money, and it's really only disguised as a baseball book.

I guess I really shouldn't have said "written by", since Michael Lewis is really more of an editor this time around. He writes an "intro" for each chapter, but
...more
Brendan
Panic! examines the recent history of financial scares and how Wall Street deals with them. Starting with the 1987 (88?) crash during which Lewis was working at Soloman Brothers (and from which he wrote Liar’s Poker), Lewis traces out the causes, effects, and nature of several crashes, including the Asian currency crash, the Internet bubble, and the recent collapse of the housing market. For each, Lewis provides some contextual commentary and then curates a number of contemporary essays from var ...more
Zachary
"I didn't appreciate what they had done until much later. You cannot really see a thing unless you know what you are looking for, and I did not know what I was looking for. ... What happend in the stock-market crash was one of those transfers of authority that seem to occur in teh financial marketplace every decade or so. ... One small group of people with its old, established way of looking at the world was hustled from its seat of power. Another small group of people with a new way of looking ...more
Kevin
This book wasn't what I was expecting when I bought it. I was expecting a book solely about the subprime crisis; I got a book about the 1987 stock market crash, the 1997-8 asian currency crisis/LTCM bailout, the dot-com bust AND the subprime crisis. I was expecting a book written solely by Michael Lewis; I got a book that is a collection of articles written by a number of writers during the times of these panics. Although it wasn't what I was expecting, it was still very interesting. Lewis inclu ...more
James
Meh.

As much as I'm a fan of pamphlets as oppose to tomes, I can't abide poetry or short story collections or anthologies.

But I loved New Kings, and I love Michael Lewis the way I love Ira, so I gave Panic a shot.

This wasn't one of those books I abandoned, but it's still a lie to say I 'read' it.

There were pieces here that I admired, but most re-trod what earlier pieces had said - and I imagine that's much of the point. There was a certain charm to many of the pieces for me because they fall in t
...more
Justin
I picked this book up off a friend's shelf because I had thirty minutes to kill and I wasn't aware the Michael Lewis had written another book without me knowing. Turns out that he hadn't. This isn't really a "book." It is a collection of articles (newspaper, magazine). Lewis wrote the intro and collected all of the stories so you get your Michael Lewis fix. This is a collection of articles leading up to economic panics, articles about the panics written in the moment, and articles providing a po ...more
Terry
The collection of articles provides a curious overview of four financial panics. None of these is particularly in-depth. When one presents a compendium of primary sources, curation is the acme of utility. All of these articles are probably available for free via online search. As a test, I compared the articles listed in this book and compared them to the ones I found on wikipedia for the the 1987 Black Monday. On the whole, just clicking on the wikipedia references provided equal quality althou ...more
Jerry Peace
Best quote, from Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, from 2002: "The single-family housing market is not in a bubble, and I don't think it is susceptible to a bubble.....We are not going to see the price of single-family homes fall. It ain't going to happen." Don't you just love experts?
May
This is less a "story of modern financial insanity" and more an anthology of randomly put together articles that Lewis found interesting. That said, there are a few interesting articles that make this book a decent read and it should be read in that context. Knowing what you know now - so to speak - a lot of the articles ring false. However, it's interesting and important to consider "what did it seem like the problem was then" vs. "what really was the problem."



For a novice, this might be an int
...more
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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.

His latest book, Flash Boys, was published on March 31, 2014.
More about Michael Lewis...
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game Liar's Poker Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

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“Everything, in retrospect, is obvious. But if everything were obvious, authors of histories of financial folly would be rich . . .” 25 likes
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