Understanding the Financial Crisis 2008

Books that are great sources for understanding the causes, events and aftermath of the recent financial crisis.
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130 books · 228 voters · list created February 25th, 2011 by Brian (votes) .
148 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


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Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I don't think I can vote for Too Big to Fail, since it didn't actually explain anything, or lead to improved understanding.


message 2: by Brian (last edited Oct 10, 2011 09:45AM) (new)

Brian After having read a ton about the financial crisis, I felt I had enough background to enjoy the minute-by-minute narrative. Sorkin obviously made no attempt at analysis in the book, which is why it was such a treat. I felt like we had access to the decisions being made and how they were made. Scary, enlightening, mostly just scary. When it comes down to it, I feel much more under an oligarchy than I like to think....So I totally hear your perspective here: it's not really going to help anyone gain understanding of the crisis, just maybe understand how Goldman Sachs our government and big banks reacted in panic mode.

I'm actually so surprised that I'm the only one who voted for The Age of Turbulence....Yes, it was written before the crisis, but Greenspan's attitude (and much of the SEC) was a big part of setting the stage for the crisis. I mean, he makes claims that have within the past 5 years have been proven absolutely false! (I'm not sure if he's naive and truly believed that employees act in the best interests of the companies they (currently) work for, or if he's just pro-greed, dogmatically anti-regulation.) Those claims led, for example, to legislation explicitly barring regulation of certain now-toxic assets. But anyway....


message 3: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I agree with you, on everything you say, pretty much. Sorkin wrote a certain type of book, and that type of book is not without value. The blow-by-blow book, focusing on the personalities, all synthesis, no analysis. (Unless you count a couple paragraphs in the epilogue.) After reading it I feel like I have a much better sense of the actors involved - who was greedier, who was more willing to act for the collective good, who had serious narcissistic personality disorders, who was dumb and incompetent, who was smart. No book can be everything, and a publisher working with an author will design a book not to be too duplicative of other books already out there, or in the works. (Of course, Sorkin's book was one of the first out there.)

I'm sure you are right about The Age of Turbulence, but I need to have read a book before voting for it.

I thought about adding When Genius Failed but I didn't.


message 4: by Jay (new)

Jay The crisis was caused by central banking. Here is a short reading list: http://www.lewrockwell.com/murphy/mur...


message 5: by Jay (last edited Oct 31, 2011 11:31AM) (new)

Jay The man who predicted the crisis before it happened, Peter Schiff.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0QN-...

Ron Paul predicts housing bubble in 2003.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6V8N8...

Mark Thornton calls housing bubble in 2004.
http://mises.org/daily/1533/Housing-T...


message 6: by Lobstergirl (last edited Oct 31, 2011 03:44PM) (new)

Lobstergirl Jay wrote: "The man who predicted the crisis before it happened, Peter Schiff.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0QN-...
"


Ha, wow. Arthur Laffer, Ben Stein, and the other mopes on those shows sound like complete idiots. And yet their careers go on! No consequences for being so dismally wrong!

Ben Stein: "Subprime is a tiny, tiny blip..."
"Merrill Lynch is an astonishingly well run company..."

What [financial stock] do you like, Charles?
"Washington Mutual!"


message 7: by Brian (new)

Brian Heh, I think a lot of people saw the crisis coming. (see everyone who profited from it, of whom there are many.)

I see the argument that the Fed created the conditions for this particular crisis, but I don't think that means we'd be better off without it. I'd rather not have a crisis every 30 years or so (see pre-Great Depression).

I'd actually rather see more responsible compensation for people creating short-term value (for themselves) and huge long-term risk (e.g. the fixed income guys who helped load our financial system with incredible amounts of risk). Why should we pay someone a bonus for something they created that will end up LOSING their company in the end. I have no idea how this can be fixed, but I don't think it has anything to do with the Fed, perhaps not the regulatory bodies as well (sounds great to be able to regulate all of these crazy financial products, but that's probably not practical...they can 'innovate' them far faster than government can regulate them).

Given that many of these corporations are back to record profits, I'm not sure they see any downside to what happened (if you think I'm anthropomorphizing, see Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). So I can't expect that these banks will change their compensation structure to reward for the long-term results of the actions of their traders (and even if they were motivated, these financial innovators would leave for somewhere with an appropriately myopic approach to compensation, rinse, repeat).

Restoring Financial Stability: How to Repair a Failed System is the first I've read to at least attempt to suggest how we can effect such change. But it's not as actionable as I'd hoped (well, written by a bunch of academics, so what would we expect ;) ).

I'm open-minded, so If I can stand it, I may try to read something by Ron Paul to see what he thinks would fix this situation, but I have extremely low expectations, and have low tolerance for dogmatic arguments.


message 8: by Lobstergirl (last edited Oct 31, 2011 04:41PM) (new)

Lobstergirl I would read Ron Paul for chuckles perhaps, but I can't take much he says seriously. Even if it were desirable to travel back in time to 1790, it's not really possible.

On changing compensation practices, I'm trying to remember which books talked about it. Maybe Stiglitz, in Freefall.

Johnson and Kwak in 13 Bankers argue for limiting bank size to a dollar amount of assets. "The end of 'too big to fail' will reduce large banks' funding advantage, forcing them to compete on the basis of products, price and service rather than implicit government subsidies. Increased competition will reduce the margins on fee-driven businesses such as securitization, trading, and derivatives, putting pressure on large banks' profits. A larger group of competitors will also make it harder for major banks to divert such a large proportion of their profits to employee compensation; bonuses for traders and investment bankers should fall from the historically obscene to the merely outrageous."

A worthwhile book.


message 9: by Jay (last edited Oct 31, 2011 05:05PM) (new)

Jay Brian wrote: "I see the argument that the Fed created the conditions for this particular crisis, but I don't think that means we'd be better off without it. I'd rather not have a crisis every 30 years or so (see pre-Great Depression)."

The argument that pre-Great Depression business cycles were caused by the free-market/lack of a central bank, has been completely and utterly discredited. There is a mountain of literature on this topic. Allowing banks to not pay their creditors when ever they don't feel like paying is not a free-market.

The shortest intro. to the subject that I'm aware of is Economics Depressions: Their Cause and Cure by Murray Rothbard.

If you're interested in pre-Great Depression banking and financial crises, an excellent book is The Case For Gold by Ron Paul. See chapter two.

Here is an entire book on the panic of 1819.

There has never been a free-market in banking.

Austrian Economists have predicted virtually every major financial disaster in the last 100 years, including the great depression. No other theory is a serious challenge. Keynesianism is, quite frankly, a joke.


message 10: by Brian (new)

Brian Lobstergirl wrote: "Johnson and Kwak in 13 Bankers argue for limiting bank size to a dollar amount of assets. "The end of 'too big to fail' will reduce large banks' funding advantage, forcing them to compete on the basis of products, price and service rather than implicit government subsidies. Increased competition will reduce the margins on fee-driven businesses such as securitization, trading, and derivatives, putting pressure on large banks' profits. A larger group of competitors will also make it harder for major banks to divert such a large proportion of their profits to employee compensation; bonuses for traders and investment bankers should fall from the historically obscene to the merely outrageous."

A worthwhile book. "


yup, already added it to my list, thanks! :)


message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin Tapp I would add Bagehot's classic Lombard Street (since both Bernanke and Geithner said it was essential reading). Gary Gorton's Slapped by the Invisible Hand (since Gorton's work informed Bernanke), Nassim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan, and Mandelbroit's Misbehavior of Markets (since he is Taleb's "mentor.")


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