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The End of Wall Street

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  863 ratings  ·  66 reviews
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The roots of the mortgage bubble and the story of the Wall Street collapse-and the government's unprecedented response-from our most trusted business journalist.

The End of Wall Street is a blow-by-blow account of America's biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Drawing on...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published January 1st 2010)
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Mac
With essentially the same content as Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail," Lowenstein's book traces the roots of the financial crisis and follows the events as they unfolded. While it doesn't have the same level of detail that "TBTF" contains, it does have more in-depth analysis of the events, something Sorkin clearly resisted.

With this analysis comes a point of view, and Lowenstein identifies under-capitalization of banks as the true cause of the financial meltdown. He points out, fairly, that there wasn...more
William Breakstone
BOOK REVIEW


”The End of Wall Street”
by Roger Lowenstein, The Penguin Press, 2010

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone
Somers, New York, Tuesday, May 11 2010

Here is yet another chronicle of the 2008—2009 financial collapse. It is a thorough re-telling of the tragedy, and though much will be found repetitive by those who have read many of the other books on the subject (and there are plenty of them) it does offer some significant new insights or interpretations that other authors may have mentioned in passing...more
Kathy Scantle
Of all of the financial crisis books I've read, The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein was by far the most comprehensive and informative. Lowenstein went in to just about every single aspect of the financial crisis including credit rating agencies, Fannie and Freddie, Lehman, leverage, capitalization, Bear Stearns, credit default swaps, deriviatives, CEOs, subprime mortgages, Wall St bonuses, politics, Geithner, Paulson, Bernanke, Greenspan, Congress, Citigroup, the TARP and on and on. This...more
George Bradford
If Wall Street is not working in the public's interest, why did the government bail it out?

How did Wall Street -- once primarily engaged in raising capital for industry, advising on mergers and selling stocks to the public -- migrate to casino style gambling activities with no conceivable social benefits? Why did the U.S. Government fail to identify and regulate Wall Street's serial risk binging? How did U.S. taxpayers get stuck with the tab for Wall Street's reckless greed?

Former Wall Street J...more
Chip Lichtenwalner
Obviously covers a lot of the same ground as All The Devils Are Here and others. Maybe I just don't remember those as well, but I feel like this went over some other areas that weren't explored as much. The liquidity and capital problem in particular and how the latter is what the Fed needed to do, which they eventually did with TARP. Also, this one gives a little more information on the talking point I hear a lot about from the right, which is that the governments push to get low income housing...more
Rod Kackley
This is one of the best books I have read on one of the worst periods in American financial/business history. The thing is, I don't think most of us realized how close we were to financial collapse, and because of our ignorance of this history, I am afraid we may be doomed to repeat it. This book should be read by our children, so they don't make the same mistakes we did.
It should also be read by everyone who calls for less federal and state government regulation of the financial industry. Of co...more
Rohan
I thought this book was not bad but I did read an Abridged edition. I am not sure if I would've liked this book if it was little longer. This book comes in the same category as Michael Lewis's The Big Short. But I would recommend The Big Short over this book any day.

I had quite a lot of expectations from this book after reading Author's earlier book on LTCM's (Long Term Capital Management) collapse - When Genius Failed. Mr. Lowenstein mentions all the major players who were the center of attenti...more
getAbstract
Start-to-finish exposé of what really happened to Wall Street

How did mortgage loans to not-quite-prime borrowers evolve into the engine of doom for Wall Street? Journalist and best-selling author Roger Lowenstein uncovers the root causes and the culmination of the 2008 financial debacle. He explains how loans to formerly unattractive clients brought out the best in Wall Street innovation and the worst in Wall Street greed. His behind-the-scenes look at the people involved, their backgrounds and...more
Edward
If you followed the sub-prime mortgage debacle as it developed in the news, I suppose there's not a lot that's new here. But the characters (Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, and a long list of others in the front of the book) who were principally involved in dealing with the banking crisis, are all put together into one narrative, and even though I didn't understand (who does? - highly questionable that many of our politicians did, or do) all of the technical financial language, the narr...more
Derek Cook
Nov 15, 2011 Derek Cook rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who wants an overall understanding of the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
"The End of Wall Street" provided an excellent survey of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The book does a very good job of tracing the roots of the crisis and explaining esoteric concepts such as mortgage securitization, CDOs, SIVs, credit default swaps, and other relevant financial instruments. This foundation allows you to follow the chain reaction of events that set the stage for the crisis and how the dominoes tumbled. I had a general idea of causes and events of the crisis but this book h...more
Edward
This read was tough going for someone not familiar with the financial players in this epic overview of the subprime mortgage debacle of 2007-2008 and it is told from the perspective of these players of which there are slightly more than one hundred. Fortunately the author includes a cast of characters and their organizational accountabilities at the beginning of the book which can be helpful in keeping the reader straight on who’s who during the narrative. It would have been helpful to have incl...more
Walt
It is difficult to place this book in a list of recommended readings. It includes detailed information presented in a chronological scheme; but the writing style assumes the reader is versed in the language and operations of Wall Street. However, if the reader is familiar with the lingo of the business world - and derivatives in particular - and the operations of Wall Street, the book may be too simple.

As someone reading for casual interest, I got only bits and pieces of understand. Lowenstein...more
Eric
I had procrastinated reading accomplished financial journalist Roger Lowenstein's latest effort about the 2008 financial crisis, The End of Wall Street, in part because it was published halfway through 2010, by which time the economic recovery had begun and I tired of dreary accounts of how close we came to still worse calamity. But I knew I'd read it eventually - Lowenstein has earned as much, having written several of the top financial books of the past two decades, including easily the best W...more
Dan Schiff
A clinical, relatively bloodless recounting of the subprime mortgage bubble and resulting mess that infected Wall Street. Lowenstein's knack for detail is a plus, but he is more reporter than storyteller.

There's not much of a narrative here, and "character" development (since he lists an extensive "Cast of Characters" at the book's outset) is limited mostly to where an executive grew up, what his parents did, and how much he likes to golf. Attempts at color are few and largely unsatisfying. Do...more
James
Better than the average book about the crash,
but considering it was recently published there's not much new detail.

The author does give good accounts of the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
that failing CEO's got for ruining their companies.

An amazing number of key people are vacationing in Italy, the Virgin Islands and
other exotic spots WHILE the crisis is unfolding and need to cut the vacation short.
Not only outrageous pay, but lots of vacation time for incompetents.

I think he's overly critic...more
John
The End of Wall Steet is is a very thorough and critical view of the events leading up to and through the 2008 meltdown. This is surprising both because of the pedigree of the author (WSJ) and because the book started out as almost a cliche FOX News criticism of Fannie/Freddie and the "evil" enablers Dodd and Frank. I don't know if that was Lowenstein's starting point and he evolved from it during the writing, or maybe he is "fair and balanced" in a way that is hard to recognize anymore... but a...more
Bart
This is a book that works best as a credible marker for the events that led to September 18, 2008. It is credible because its author - the man who wrote When Genius Failed - is held in justifiably high esteem. You read this work, in other words, for its conclusion.

There is little else in this book that breaks ground. Anyone who has read one or maybe two other books about the collapse of the free-market system in the fall of 2008 already knows the players and personalities. Even those who haven't...more
Justin Evans
A highly readable narrative of the conditions that led to the crash, the reactions (or non-reactions) of major business and governmental actors, and the mop-up operations that handed public money to private interests. I wish his 'afterword' had been a bit more detailed; for instance, it's 2012, we're in a world of record corporate profits (again) and stagnant wages (again), most economic indicators show us slipping into recession (again)- only this time the U.S. government is already in huge deb...more
Fernando
I liked the book, especially how it is written (as opposed to what it said). The storyline is engaging and has some great anecdotes and insider insights. However, 85% of it I remember reading in the newspapers as the crisis was unfolding. It is nice to have it well put together in one single place though.

I also thought the last chapter was unnecessary. It was preachy and none of the conclusions followed from the story told in the book. The last chapter almost became a justification for the title...more
Neal Jones
Excellent dissection of the events and people that led to the 2008 economic collapse of Wall Street. Lowenstein maps out in plain, no-nonsense prose exactly what happened and who the culprits were. I found his writing style to be very easy to read as Lowenstein writes for the common person. In other words, you don't need to be a banker or posses an MBA degree to understand this book. Before reading this, I had no clue exactly what led to the financial crisis of '08, but after breezing through th...more
Ilya
A chronicle of the collapse of the American financial industry in 2006-2009; record numbers of defaults on mortgages and foreclosures took a couple of years to lead to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the stock market crash of late 2008. This book answered my question, why rating agencies assigned good ratings to crappy CDOs: there were three main ones (Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch); an agency was paid for a good rating, and if it threatened to assign a bad rating, the issuer com...more
Uwe Hook
If you want to get an overview of the reasons for the Great Recession: Get the book. If you've read the classics already: don't bother. I've read around 5 books about this important chapter of our history (more chapters are being added as we speak) and this books ranks very high. Paul Krugman's analysis is more analytical, Andrew Sorkin's more personal - Lowenstein's book is somehow in between

We have seen an inflation of books about this crisis and I believe this book should be one the last few...more
Corny
This is a coherent explanation of how the recent market crisis arose. The first half of the book is partiularly impressive detailing the bungling of oversight, the ease with which bond ratings were obtained and the general greed of the market makers. Greenspan comes in for the most criticism but no one is left unscathed except perhaps Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase.
The second half of the book is more a day by day description of the crtiical moments of the crisis in 2008 and early 2009. Lowenste...more
Low Choon Peng
Lowenstein is a talented financial writer that project a good interpretation of factors that cause the 2008 economy turmoil. Good and comprehensive insights, a fair balance of narrating and technical information.
Sean
This is a solid analysis of why the 2008-2009 financial crash occurred. The author, much to his credit, eschews simple explanations. Rather, he lays out a litany of causes.

They are: an overabundance of faith that individuals and institutions will properly account for financial risk when attempting to invest; the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed commercial banks to speculate with their depositors' money; a willingness by lawmakers and regulators to overlook or disregard the moral...more
Chin Joo
The first book by Lowenstein that I read was When Genius Failed. I enjoyed it very much, but it was probably something I read some 10 years ago. The author is still an engaging one to read, but I'm a bit more conscious of his tone and the direction against which he leaned. I'm therefore more cautious about things he said and how he tried to persuade his readers.

Still, this book is an informative and enjoyable one to read. Ironically, last week's issue of The Economist has a prominent header - Wa...more
Gerard
A very good summary of the causes of the Great Recession -- makes complex financial concepts understandable, and illumnates the motivations of the various characters. It struck me as off that the author metioned Barney Frank three times. Never as an actor in the events unfolding, but in reminders that he was the leader of the House Financial Services Committee and a major booster of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These reminders are incongruous and seem if someone had dropped them in at the last mi...more
sima
A good chronology of the events (in particular, Fed and Treasury policies) in the immediate lead up to, during, and after the financial crisis.

The author provides minimal analysis, although the last chapter offers a glimpse into his perspective on the role of regulatory policy, market actors, and the American economy.

I would not recommend this for the generalist reader. It's written toward an audience with either a background in finance/wall street or those with a particularly acute interest in...more
Simon
I think I probably would have given this 4 stars if I hadn't already read so many books on the financial crisis. Crisis book fatigue. Pretty thorough, but goes over a lot of the same material as some of the other accounts. Too Big To Fail is probably better at describing some of the harrowing details and keeping the reader on edge, and The Big Short is a more interesting, nuanced look at the crisis.
Harry Barnett
I really enjoyed Roger Lowensteins previous book When Genius Failed which was about the collapse of the hedge fund LTCM.
This latest work, The End of Wall Street really does not compare with some of the other books out now about the 2008 financial crisis. A better choice would be The Big Short by Michael Lewis or Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin or House of Cards by William D Cohan.
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Roger Lowenstein has reported for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New Republic. He is the author of Buffet: the Making of an American Capitalist

-HarperCollins
More about Roger Lowenstein...
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist Warren Buffett (Duckworth) While America Aged: How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors, Stopped the NYC Subways, Bankrupted San Diego, and Loom as the Next Financial Crisis Origins of the Crash: The Great Bubble and Its Undoing

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