Trish's Reviews > The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
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's review
Mar 27, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read on March 22, 2010

Lawd. This book took my breath away. I remember what I was doing at several critical moments described in the book and to have been so unaware makes me breathless. I learned things and feel oddly vindicated and cheated at the same time. I knew dumb people were making money with my money: vindicated. I thought some people in the government might be smart enough to realize what happened and know what to do: cheated.

Michael Lewis played two roles in writing this book about the subprime loan debacle. One the one hand he did the plebian job of untangling a very messy ball of knotted threads and on the other hand did a herculean job of elevating the discussion above the rock-slinging and shouting to which some angry losers are wont to resort. His characterizations of those involved on both sides of the trades are intimate enough to involve our emotions as well as our interest, but I think what really charmed me was the absurdity of some phrases that matched so perfectly the absurdities he was describing:
Inside Morgan Stanley, the subprime lending boom created a who-put-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter moment. (p.201)

Osama and his team of bombers couldn't have done what our own Wall Street firms and their rating agencies and regulators did to the to the U.S. people and to the credibility of the U.S. government:
It was as if bombs of differing sizes had been placed in virtually every major financial institution. The fuses had been lit and could not be extinguished. All that remained was to observe the speed of the spark, and the size of the explosions. (p.225)

It seems ridiculous for me to urge you to read this book. Don't read it. You'll sleep better. But please don't go investing on Wall Street unless you want your nuts torn off.

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Reading Progress

03/22 page 17
6.44% "Lewis is clever & fast-talking. Not relaxing, especially if one is not in financial industry, but fascinating, nonetheless."
03/23 page 87
32.95% "Jay-sus. You have GOT to be kidding me. What characters! What hutzpah."
03/24 page 121
45.83% "I think I would hand this to any prospective investor in Wall Street & say don't come back till you've read and digested this." 1 comment
03/26 page 200
75.76% "Chickens coming home to roost the very day after a Las Vegas conference celebrating the ill-gotten gains of bond sales desk folks. Jeesh."
01/29 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-6 of 6) </span> <span class="smallText">(6 new)</span>

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Robert Intriago I got it today and plan to start soon. Will let you know my opinion.

message 2: by Merry (new) - added it

Merry Trish you have got my attention!

Spike I'm currently reading this and those quotes stuck out in my mind as well. Compelling!

Ms.pegasus There were so many juicy quotes, I had trouble narrowing the selection for my own review. Love the ones you picked. They reflect the color Lewis is able to infuse into his writing. As for Wall Street -- it's a subject that should concern all of us, since no one is relying solely on social security to carry us through retirement. Lewis talks about the transparency of the stock market compared to the increasingly exotic bond derivatives described here. Still, after reading this book, it does make you think.... Good review.

Trish Ms.pegasus wrote: "There were so many juicy quotes, I had trouble narrowing the selection for my own review. Love the ones you picked. They reflect the color Lewis is able to infuse into his writing. As for Wall Stre..."

Well, his next book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, puts the kibosh on the "transparency" of Wall Street. A real horror show for individual investors, but even for large banks and institutional investors. Who knew that having money just means counting it and trying to keep it safe? "The more you have, the more there is to worry about."

Ms.pegasus Thanks for the note about FLASH BOYS. Will definitely read though I'm sure it's going to be an unsettling experience.

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