Kathleen Gilroy's Reviews > Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold by Gillian Tett
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Jul 12, 09

This is the latest book I've read on the financial crisis and so far it is one of the best. Tett is a cultural anthropologist by training so the book reads like a case study of the strange tribe of quantitative finance geeks. She starts the story at a fancy corporate retreat in Boca where a group at JP Morgan came up with the idea of credit derivatives. While the folks who created these tools for managing risk were smart enough to know to keep what looked like the safest pieces of the risk off their own balance sheets, the rest of the banking world couldn't resist taking on the risk to gain access to the great profits associated with it. This stuff is really complicated and even after ploughing through the details here, I'm still hard pressed to explain what I learned. But I did learn enough to know that when credit derivatives were married with subprime lending there was only one possible outcome -- a meltdown of heretofore unseen proportions.

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