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The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  6,287 ratings  ·  201 reviews
In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall.  Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing.  He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall St ...more
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published (first published November 2009)
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James
Apr 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
This book was quite a disappointment.

The author spends most of the book talking about whether someones mother grew up in a poor family, middle class, or rich.
When they played tennis, went swimming, picked their nose.
What vintage wine they had for dinner.

Mostly gossip about how people behaved.

At the beginning he gushed so much about how clever etc people were,
it sounded like he was their mother.

As the book progressed more than 90% of the details of personal behavior became unflattering.

A b
...more
Mahesh
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greatest trade ever:
1. Ability to explain complex ideas in simple terms .

2. A sales man's job starts when the customer says no.

3. Merger arbitrage: long acquisition target and short acquirer. Low risk and high promise of potential fortune.

4. Watch the down side , upside will take care of it.

5. Charming and fun and showed interest in woman, which made woman love him.

6. Never give up. Never give up.
How much can we loose on this trade?

7. Big upside yet limited down side.

8. Even after concluding bet
...more
Marc Brackett
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a superbly well written book that had a lot more depth than one would expect from a book on this subject.

Zuckerman did well to extend the story beyond just John Paulson as there were also other characters that played a large role that added to the overall story. This is a classic tale of a few that defied conventional wisdom and went against the flow.

At the time these individuals starting putting the pieces together for this trade of a lifetime, it was common knowledge that nationwide
...more
Kenneth
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-bookshelf
Bubbles tend to burst. Secondhand people will go down. Think independently.
Iain
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another story to come out of the financial crisis of 2008 with mind boggling numbers in losses and profits, irresponsibility, and shrewdness. John Pauison went from being a relatively unknown merger-arbitrage guy running $300 million dollars, on Wall Street, small fry to a whale who made the largest gain on investment in financial history. In 'The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind the Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History' by Gregory Zukerman readers get a ...more
Kenneth Geary
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zuckerman does a good job of taking a modern history lesson and turning into an interesting narrative. While the book could use some trimming due to some scenes that do not really drive the plot anywhere and therefore unnecessary, i suspect they are there to illustrate the level of research the author conducted in order to weave an accurate yet entertaining story. This is another book I would not have read if it had not been assigned to me, yet I found it engaging and entertaining providing pert ...more
Erwinpantel
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent examination of the financial meltdown of 2008-2009

This is an excellent book for understanding the events leading up to the financial meltdown of 2008-2009, explaining the key individuals that foresaw the problems and the financial instruments that were the root of the problem.
Gretchen
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book greedy people who profited by the 2008 shattering of the economy. It was all about the money; none of these folks seemed to give a damn about the larger issues or the folks who got slammed.

Hey, I got mine, so screw you.

Zuckerman does a good job telling the tale; you just won't feel good about the big winners in it.
Bob Costello
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book by a very good writer. He tell a very compelling story of a few professional investors who went against the main investment tide and bet against housing market. When housing market collapsed, they made billions. Zuckerman turns non-fiction in to a page turner.
Neil
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Unlike the Big Short this book deals with John Paulson and follows his ability to make the largest successful bet in financial history. Both books are great but if I had to pick one I would personally go with this one
Selena
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! A must-read for all traders. Love your art, know your market, learn new markets.... All of that helps solidify your legacy. And, trading, is ultimately about sculpting your legacy.
Ian Headon
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff

Complex topic explained clearly
Geoff
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was awesome. Did not expect that at all. Had the idea that it would be a long WSJ article in book form, but the author put life into the narrative and the exciting (ha) world of hedge fund management. The book outlines the back-story of John Paulson’s adroit navigation of the housing bubble and the staggering profits he earned for his fund investors. His bearish view on the housing market was diametrically opposed by the street, hence his ability to reap so much rewards for his prescie ...more
Mickaugrec
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Avadhut
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
http://avadhutrecommends.wordpress.com/

Summary –

The Greatest Trade Ever is a brilliant narrative of John Paulson’s sensational trade where his hedge fund bet against the market and made $20 Billion.

Review –

To be honest, I was bit apprehensive when I started with this book. This was 4th book in quick succession on the same topic for me and I feared it may not capture my interest. True, the story runs parallel to that of The Big Short, but The Greatest Trade Ever distinguishes itself with its dext
...more
Davis
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this book not expecting much. In terms of subject matter, it is somewhat of a carbon copy of Michael Lewis' 'The Big Short', which I enjoyed immensely. There is some overlap of people like the doctor turned investor, Michael Burry, and the Deutsche Bank Bond Trader, Greg Lippmann. But after that, both books cover different people who had the foresight, knowledge and courage to short the real estate bubble. Which book is better? I have to say this one. It may have been that my expecta ...more
Matthew
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: markets, biography
Good, fun read. Zuckerman sketches out the trade without going too far into technical details, which is fine -- he throws enough light on the research process and the push back from investment banks for readers to understand how hard Paulson had to work to get this trade off the ground. It's got some nice biographical sketches of Paulson and various others who also took the same trade, though in less spectacular size. It also shows how important a fund's investor base is -- Paulson managed to ma ...more
John Salvesen
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best non-fiction books I have read in some time, in terms of financial books I would say it rivals Liars Poker. Zuckerman took me on a wild ride through the most successful trade of all time. The ‘trade’ was actually a series of trades all based around shorting the housing market before and during the crash of 07-08. From the vantage point of John Paulson, his staff and several other key players across the country he showed how they all pulled it off. The surprising part is that Pauls ...more
Mhd
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm very glad I took the extra effort required to finish this book! I have a much, much better understanding of the subprime market, 2007/2008 market & mortgage collapse, etc. I'm surprised that I hadn't heard this perspective on all the news docs I followed. Please realize that I have little financial training, but I do know numbers. Two things had troubled me about the collapse:
--I saw it coming, why didn't others?
--Why hadn't anyone done anything about it?

Now, I see that many financial types
...more
Brian
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, business
Exceedingly well researched, well written account of the unbelievably few who foresaw the seemingly obvious sub-prime mortgage and real estate crash. The author does a very nice job of giving biographical detail of the various players and telling an engaging story.

John Paulson and a few other clairvoyants bucked the popular belief that real estate never decreases in value, and remembered the classic random walk theory (the events of the past have no relevance of the price of a stock tomorrow) i
...more
Rick Mccray
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. I am a major fan of financial literature told in a novel format and this book delivered. George Zuckerman was able to write in an engaging manner that kept my interest throughout the story and his creation of John Paulson as an almost "antihero" gave great context in what is still the most financially profitable trade for an individual in Wall Street history. My one critique is actually the one thing I also like about the book the most. It is written like a novel, and becaus ...more
Derek Prior
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled onto this book as an alternative to Michael Lewis' "The Big Short," which is not available for the kindle. Paulson's trades read like a who's who of the American financial collapse. The book is entertaining (so long as you weren't on the other side of these trades) but can be a bit difficult to follow at times as the author hops from Paulson to other like-minded investors and back again. If you are looking for the story of what went wrong then I would suggest something else (like This ...more
Oliver Schnusenberg
This was a fantastic book!! In fact, I thought it was better than the title suggests, since the book managed to simultaneously describe trading on the potential collapse of the housing bubble by various parties, all done in slightly different ways. I also really appreciated the author's ability to explain complex financial products as succinctly and clearly as possible in very limited space.

The only thing I wish would have been different was the relative lack of footnotes. How did the author ob
...more
Matt Regan
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read several Wall Street books: "Liar's Poker", "Barbarians at the Gate", "Rigged", "When Genious Failed" to name a few but The Greatest Trade Ever is my favorite so far. Just really well written and easy to follow and you dont have to know a lot about the world of high finance to understand how this guy John Paulson struck gold. It also paints an objective type view of Paulson and doesn't imply that he was a genious mastermind like other books in the genre and Zuckerman actually portrait ...more
Sagnik Ghoshal
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most well-investigated and fascinating reads ever for me. A must-read if the world of stock markets fascinates you. This is the detailed story of how an industry underdog John Paulson along with his small 12 man hedge-fund firm made the trade of the century in gaining $20bn from the 2007 market downturn. The book is written from countless interviews the writer (Gregory Zuckerman) conducted with close associates of John as well as other industry insiders and whose-whos. Interviews of p ...more
Charlie
The Greatest Trade Ever was a very interesting account of the lead up the housing collapse. The warnings of the approaching catastrophe were not hidden but surprisingly few people on Wall Street protected themselves.

John Paulson recognized what was coming and found an investment that profited from the default of loans. My rudimentary understanding about the trade is that he bought insurance on blocks of loans that paid out if they defaulted. Who sold the insurance? The same banks that were givi
...more
Brian
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story and helpful to understand what happened with mortgages and housing. The book nicely outlines the path of multiple people who bet against housing and effectively highlights the difficulty in executing the trade well, even if you have conviction about the answer. The Author can at times try to create more drama and excitement where there is none by playing up banker stereotypes or overhyping personalities - but that is a relatively minor flaw. Definitely an enjoyable read.
Steve Matthews
This is essentially the story of John Paulson as well as other hedge fund managers who bet against the housing market around 2006-07. The Big Short deals with some of the smaller players who did well. This is mainly about Paulson, who was the biggest single winner. It starts slow but is a quick read after the first few chapters. If anything I would have preferred a bit more detail on how they went about the analysis of various markets, and a bit less detail about the fabulous lives of the rich a ...more
Beth
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
There was quite a lot of biographical detail on all the main "characters" in this book, which did keep me engaged and kept the story moving. I think it was a little too much detail at times, though. It was well written and the financial details were explained in layman's terms that made the trade easy to follow. I also thought the author did a good job creating suspense around the market movements and outcome of the trade for all the players.
Rob
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good read. Not so much for it's intricate detail of the crisis, in fact, anyone with even a working knowledge of Wall Street and what happened during the crisis would find the details a little elementary. But, I couldn't put the book down, which says a lot about how it was written since I already knew the ending!
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Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, a 22-year veteran of the paper and a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award -- the highest honor in business journalism.

Greg is the author of five books: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution; The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters; The Greatest Trade Ev
...more

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November is the time for aspiring writers to get serious about writing that book! It's National Novel Writing Month, the annual event designed to...
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“By describing the collapse of the financial system as a natural disaster, rather than as a series of man-made errors, countless pros acted blameless and retained lucrative jobs.” 1 likes
“A few days later, Pellegrini took his wife on vacation in Anguilla. Stopping at an automated-teller machine in the hotel lobby on New Year's Eve to withdraw some cash, she checked the balance of their checking account.
She was immediately taken aback. On the screen before her was a figure she had never seen before, at least not on an ATM. It's not clear how many others ever had, either: $45 million, newly deposited in their joint account. It was Pellegrini's bonus for the year, including some deferred compensation. He was still special to John Paulson, after all.
In truth, Pellegrini had withheld more from his bonus than he needed in order to pay the year's taxes, so the figure in the bank account that day was skimpier than it could have been. Paulson paid him about $175 million for his work in 2007. Pellegrini would never again have to worry about finding a career, keeping a job, or stretching his savings.
"Wow," his wife said quietly, still staring at the ATM.
Then they left, arm in arm, to meet a chartered boat to take them to nearby St. Barts.
Paulson did quite well for himself as well. His hedge fund got to keep 20 percent of the $15 billion or so gains of all his funds. He also was a big investor in the credit funds. His personal tally for 2007: nearly $4 billion. It was the largest one-year payout in the history of the financial markets.”
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