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Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  357 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
An engaging look at what led to the financial turmoil we now find ourselves in "Bailout Nation" offers one of the clearest looks at the financial lenders, regulators, and politicians responsible for the financial crisis of 2008. Written by Barry Ritholtz, one of today's most popular economic bloggers and a well-established industry pundit, this book skillfully explores how ...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by John Wiley & Sons (first published November 21st 2008)
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Jun 10, 2009 Jan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who really wants to understand the financial crisis
Barry Ritholtz deserves five stars for being right about the root causes of the current "financial crisis," and delivering his wisdom in such a direct and entertaining style. As far back as 2006, you could go to his blog "The Big Picture" to understand that finance was going critical already, and it was only a matter of time before the shit hit the fan. At this point, there have been a lot of words written explaining in depth how the complex jigsaw puzzle of CDS, RMBS, CDO, and just plain greed ...more
Jan 05, 2010 Keith rated it liked it
I bought this book because I really enjoy reading the author's blog, and although I have read many of his thoughts about the ultimate causes of the financial crisis I wanted to see all of it laid out in a coherent form because his blog, while informative and entertaining, is a bit disorganized.

I got most of my wish, but unfortunately the book is itself a little bit haphazard. Ritholtz repeats himself frequently (it feels almost like several chapters are almost standalone articles because they ov
Mike F
Jun 06, 2010 Mike F rated it really liked it
This book really helped me synthesize my thoughts about current econ issues. Three factors mainly to blame: easy money (Greenspan), deregulation (phil Gramm, greenspan, actually everyone incl Clinton & Rubin), and moral hazard created by a history of bailouts (Lockheed, Chrysler, Continental IL, Long-Term Capital). And both political parties, of course enabled all this. Really worth reading to help you put it all together.
Jun 19, 2011 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible, 2011, infuriating
An account that is both excellent and infuriating (so much so, I was provoked to start an "infuriating" shelf on goodreads) about how greed and deregulation joined together to produce a monster child--the recent financial crisis. I swear, every time I read one of these books (see also, The Big Short), the line of people I want to slap silly just gets longer and longer.
Jan 06, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
Superb book. One of the best there is about the financial crisis, it can be a little "wonky" but ironically uses lots of blunt wording, humor (sometimes mildly profane and blue but hey, Ritholtz IS a Wall Street guy). It should be understandable to most people, albeit perhaps boring, but I found his writing style engaging, funny, well informed but easy to relate to.

This book does an amazing job setting up the premise: That "bailouts" cause more bailouts, each larger and costing more money. Star
Jul 09, 2009 Benjamin rated it it was amazing

Barry Ritholtz is best known for writing "The Big Picture," a candid and frequently snarky blog about economics and finance. His style translates well to this book-length treatment of the current financial crisis.

Never once to mince words, Ritholtz names names and passes harsh judgment while clearly explaining the various contributors to the recent financial meltdown. Without getting too technical, Ritholtz offers a good summary of both the products and practices that, while appealing in the sho
Mar 24, 2010 Lynn rated it it was ok
You can learn something from this book if you know when the author is being deceptive and when he is being informative. I found he was deceptive about the net capital rule. I also know he exaggerated the effects of repealing Glass-Steagall. The few other regulations he cites are probably exaggerated at best. His primary point is that lack of government regulation caused the financial crisis. The only lack of regulation he mentioned that didn't contribute was that of Fannie and Feddie, and that s ...more
Feb 16, 2012 James rated it liked it
Shelves: finance
There are some other books that cover the GFC better,
but this is an OK effort.

He mentions how the SEC in 2005 let investment banks increase leverage from 12 to 1 to 40 to 1!!!

And how the Boskin commission in 1995 gutted how the CPI was calculated,
letting the FED think there isn't much inflation,
when there really is.

In the middle of a book full of snarky writing, he even had a joke:
"This has been even worse than my first divorce,
I've lost half my net worth but I still have my wife."

He shows
Remontoire Joris
Jan 29, 2011 Remontoire Joris rated it really liked it
Pretty heavy on financial jargon which I am personally not accustomed to. Repeats some key points over and over again. The book did give me a bit more insight in what is happening today in the US and world economy. This is a good book if you know what he is talking about, or take the time to find more information about the jargon and what it means. A few mentions of non US countries where made (including my home country's rabobank) which economies where impacted by the US housing bubble and bust ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Patrdr rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
At this stage so much has been written about the financial crisis that the next book you read about it is likely to be redundant. I thought this was strongest in describing the pattern and history of corporate bailouts. I agreed with most of the discussion of factors contributing to the crisis. There was, in my view, a silly attack on the Boskin commission that advanced the use of hedonic or quality adjustments in the US Consumer Price Index. That was a bit of a clue that the economic analysis u ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Hokomoko rated it really liked it
Written engagingly, though with a rushed style (frequently repeating himself and writing as if from an outline), Ritholtz tells the amazing story of America's capitalist transformation into a failing statist-financial wealth transfer organization. Many bad actors get insightful treatment. What I missed here were any clear explanation of the effects of trillions of dollars new debt, rampant quantitative easing, etc. What, in economic terms, does this mean for individuals, small businesses, establ ...more
Michael Ostendorp
Dec 29, 2011 Michael Ostendorp rated it liked it
Ritholtz deserves five stars for being right about the economic meltdown that so many others didn't see coming or chose to ignore. This book, however gets three stars for the constant financial jargon and the repetition and standalone-feel to some chapters. Despite that, it's an excellent primer on the 2008 financial crisis (its origins and the bailout aftermath) and a history of bailouts in general (and why this time it's different, and not in a good way). Caution, however, as after reading thi ...more
Jan 02, 2014 steve rated it it was amazing
as a big fan of the big picture blog, this has been sitting on the to-read pile for longer than i care to admit. ritholtz delivers here. a no BS, straightforward explanation of the situations, behaviors and events that brought us the great recession. equally disturbing is a look at how many of the folks responsible for these events are still driving the economy today and/or deeply involved with setting policy.

if you've been looking for a simple overview of how we got to the great recession, thi
Oct 05, 2009 Mark rated it liked it
I'm not a financial wizard and it was a good introduction to wall street. The book was a little dry at parts but bearable. The author was a little over the top when it came to criticizing those he felt were at fault for the current economical down turn. So I'm taking his criticism with a grain of salt because I feel that he is probably exaggerating and not telling the complete picture in some cases to prove his point. He does tend to repeat himself but that was only a minor annoyance. I found hi ...more
Sep 30, 2009 Matt rated it liked it
Blame Greenspan!

This book makes the case for more regulation and does a good job of explaining why the banks and wall street suck (repackaging and securitizing risky mortgages and then having them rated AAA is a bad idea).

BUT- the book is filled with a lot of economic jargon, which lost me since I haven't read economics for dummies yet. Still, even without having a strong background in economics and banking, I could still pick up enough of what Ritholtz was talking about to feel like I "got it"
Bill Hazlett
Apr 01, 2012 Bill Hazlett rated it liked it
As a follower of Barry Ritholtz blog, I was not surprised to find the book a tad wonkish. Although I feel he did cut to the chase on the causes of the economic collapse, the final nail in the coffin of Glass-Steagall in 1999, Greenspan's laissez-fare attitude at the Fed, there were way too many charts and graphs for my liking. I do agree with his premise and felt vindicated about my thoughts on the collapse. Michael Lewis, however, is a far more entertaining writer and reaches much of the same c ...more
Rebekah Sheppard
Feb 28, 2014 Rebekah Sheppard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Excellent insight for how we got where we are.
Byron Wright
Nov 13, 2013 Byron Wright rated it really liked it
Privatized profits and socialized losses. The basic premise of this book is that the markets are being regulated for the benefit of financial firms and not for the good of the economy or the people.

You don't need to be into finance to get a lot of value out of this book. It's definitely good for laymen (of which I'm one). Similar in content to books by Satyajit Das. It makes you wonder why it was allowed to happen because everyone seemed to know it was going to fall apart.
Apr 08, 2015 Marcin rated it really liked it
Overall it was a good read (especially for someone who didn't live through all the events described) up until you get to the point when things are being repeated at the end of the book.
I wasn't sure if this was suppose to be a history of bailouts in US (which was rather weak) or a description of 2008 crises, which wasn't very deep, too.

A lot of repetition in the book, but from what I noticed, this is how Barry's style is, including his blogposts, podcasts, etc.
Jeffrey Asselin
Oct 29, 2014 Jeffrey Asselin rated it it was amazing
Great history of bailouts showcasing the progression of the growing negligence of the US Treasury Secretaries, Federal Reserve Chairmen, and Presidents. Full view of the depletion of moral hazard for the large US banks, and the issues that will plague the US economy moving forward. Barry Ritholtz is a powerful critic of recent fiscal and monetary policy and he has the data and smarts to back it up. Great book.
May 11, 2011 Jpmist rated it liked it
Ritholtz is a very bright guy, but he's no writer, he's a blogger.

That said, he knows what he's talking about and more than most books on the subject has a very clear grasp of what went wrong during the Financial crisis of 2008.

He needed an editor to get him to focus and not repeat himself, but don't let the messenger deter you from learning what he has to offer. You'll learn a lot.
Another book where I struggle - 3 or 4 stars? It would get 4 stars for the thesis and his point of view (which I thoroughly agree with) but only 3 for quality of writing. He repeats almost full sentences (data and all) in a few places which is distracting. But I really like his point of view on the subject.
Apr 12, 2010 timv rated it it was amazing
a must read - for an in depth and understandable explanation of the financial crisis of 2008, etc., the too big to fail banks, etc. by an very knowledgable and angry man... He tears into both Republicans and Democrats, the goverment, the banks, Wall Street, etc.
Jan 09, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it
Bailout Nation provides a very entertaining and informative look at the history of bailouts in the US- of both corporations and financial markets- as well as solid analysis of the credit crisis and housing bust. I highly recommend it.
Vincent Chough
Dec 27, 2011 Vincent Chough rated it really liked it
Gutsy and revealing. Up front honesty. Ritholz is an important voice of reason in the financial circus. He has been making a lot of sense for a long time. His blog shows an interest in the reader, not just in Ritholzs portfolio. ...more
This book has an interesting premise, however, while I do enjoy politics and learning about our financial system it only piques my interest for so long. I only read the first 1/4 of the book, which I enjoyed but not overly so.
May 17, 2010 Norm added it
readable at least. Let's wait until I finish.

Heck, it seemed good at the time, I finished it. I can't say it changed my life or anything.
Scott Bell
Dec 30, 2010 Scott Bell rated it really liked it
Nice bibliography of sources to back his case. The stats of our bailout history and the federal reserve will be fascinating for those who didn't know.
Nedland P.
Dec 11, 2010 Nedland P. rated it it was amazing
Barry's pretty good at looking into the future on his "The Big Picture" blog, and he was excellent at detail past errors in this book.
Jonathan Miller
Nov 18, 2012 Jonathan Miller rated it it was amazing
Written by one of the best chroniclers of the financial crisis through his Big Picture blog. Loved it. Solid and engaging read.
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