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Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  1,665 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
The New York Times bestseller: A masterful account of today’s money culture, showing how the underpricing of risk leads to catastrophe.

When it comes to markets, the first deadly sin is greed. In this New York Times bestseller, Michael Lewis is our jungle guide through five of the most violent and costly upheavals in recent financial history. With his trademark humor and b
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 2nd 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 1st 2008)
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Feb 28, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
"No one believes the original assumptions anymore. It's hard to believe that anyone-- yes, including me-- ever believed it."
- John Seo, Fermat Capital, Quoted in 'Panic' by Michael Lewis


I'm not giving this book 3 stars because the writing is bad. Much of the writing is very, very good. I'm just giving it three stars because it technically is only an anthology edited by Michael Lewis. It is just a a collection of stories written by the author and many other financial writers divided into Four maj
Aug 04, 2010 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
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
Mar 19, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 15, 2009 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Un montón de artículos periodísticos, muy bien elegidos, sobre las últimas crisis que hemos vivido (el crash del 87, la crisis de Asia de los 90, el crash de las puntocom, el crash de las hipotecas subprime). Hay algunos artículos que, con el paso de los años, no hacen más que ganar. Lo lees y piensas que lo que decía el periodista era demasiado obvio y, por supuesto, terminó ocurriendo. Otros artículos son de análisis y nos ayudan a entender matices y detalles sobre lo que ocurrió. Una lectura ...more
Tim Pendry

Another 'hindsight' review, this time of a collection of material from 2008, largely contemporaneous articles curated by Michael Lewis, one of late capitalism's best known chroniclers.

The material covers the stock market crash of 1987 (blamed at the time on automated trading), the Asian currency crisis and the problems at Long Term Capital Management in 1998, the internet stocks boom and bust in 2000 and the sub-prime mortgage market collapse in 2007.

Lewis' underlying thesis is what you would ex
Neil Cake
Mar 29, 2016 Neil Cake rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
I didn't have any particular interest in the stock markets or economics in general, but my standard interest in learning about stuff led me to this compilation of newspaper articles, essays and book extracts covering notable crashes of recent years.

I wondered at first whether I'd be able to stick it out, as a lot of the prose was comprised of various stock valuations and fluctuations - prices going up 30 points, decreasing by 25%... then there's lots of talk of hedge funds, selling stocks short
Jerel Bonner
Once again Michael Lewis helps the average Jane and Joe understand the complex world of high finance. Since the mid 80's the US markets have been more volatile than the best amusement parks. In this book, Michael Lewis has gathered a collection of short stories from editorial financial gurus such as Paul Krugman and Lester Thurow, and many others to recreate the modern financial time-lines that show the re-occurring financial panics.

He takes us through each financial boom and bust. With each cyc
Mark Ruzomberka
Jun 03, 2014 Mark Ruzomberka rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 01, 2015 R. Andrew Lamonica rated it liked it
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
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
Tom Emory Jr.
Apr 10, 2010 Tom Emory Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 11, 2011 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ankur Maniar
Jul 06, 2015 Ankur Maniar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book written by Michael Lewis but just edited. Its a collection of articles pre and post the various stock market and financial market crashes. It covers four major panics of the modern financial history, namely the Black Monday, The Asian Financial Crisis, The Dot Com Bubble and the most recent Sub Prime Mortgage Crisis. Its a wonderful collection of very relevant articles and how the history looks in hindsight. Once again the magician that Michael Lewis is --- his articles featured in th ...more
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
Nov 19, 2009 Kid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2010 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Alex Ryan
Jan 09, 2016 Alex Ryan rated it liked it
Recommended to Alex by: Me
Shelves: finance
I enjoyed this book most of the time while reading. It offered a collection of different sources before, during, and after each financial crash. I found some of the sources hard to follow and boring. A lot of it was redundant (which is bound to happen when different sources attempt to offer a coherent picture). I would say there are parts of each crash that went undescribed. Some of the sources were extremely dry with no real substance to them.
Jerry Peace
May 31, 2014 Jerry Peace rated it really liked it
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?
Apr 04, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it
An interesting collection of articles about 4 different financial crises, starting with the stock market crash of 1987 and ending with the recent housing market crash of 2007. At times I missed a common thread, but nevertheless, the editor, Michael Lewis, managed to create a gripping chronology of the accelerating boom and busts of our financial and economic system. Can definitely recommend it.
Tim O'Hearn
Mar 02, 2015 Tim O'Hearn rated it really liked it
A pretty good supplement to Liar's Poker (somewhat), How Genius Failed, The New New Thing, The Big Short, and Boomerang (barely).
Jan 09, 2016 Steven rated it liked it
The least of the outstanding Michael Lewis oevre.

Compendium of familiar and dated articles on financial markets, etc.

Should not have been published
Valters Bondars
Jun 01, 2015 Valters Bondars rated it liked it
Alex Gleason
Dec 24, 2014 Alex Gleason rated it liked it
Great collection.
Jul 05, 2014 Linda added it
Shelves: non-fiction
cspan2 finance
Thomas Dale
A very useful guide to what caused the global economic mess we are in today.
Jun 13, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
Not really a book.
Amit Trivedi
Oct 22, 2016 Amit Trivedi rated it liked it
A great book, written in a typical Michael Lewis style - deep analysis and highly critical of practices of the Wall Street.
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
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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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“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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