The Skimmer

Book Review: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

By Michael Lewis

W.W. Norton; 288 pages

Steve Eisman knew that calamity would eventually come. The hedge-fund manager bet big against the subprime-mortgage market and won. So did Mike Burry, a social recluse who began investing at night during his medical residency. Jamie Mai and Charlie Ledley, two 30-somethings who started trading in a Berkeley garage, "assumed that there was some grownup in charge of the financial system." There wasn't. In The Big Short, Michael Lewis, who chronicled an earlier era of Wall Street excess in 1989's Liar's Poker, tells the story of investors who asked questions that no one else would (like, What happens if house prices stop rising?) and came to the chilling conclusion that collapse was inevitable. Lewis takes us inside the investment banks and ratings agencies to demonstrate that no one had any idea what they were actually doing. And with the money flowing so easily, no one particularly cared. When the world goes mad, there are always a few voices of reason. In one of the best books about the crisis so far, Lewis shows the consequences of not listening.