Michael Lewis's The Big Short

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

The #1 New York Times bestseller: "It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it's essential reading."—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair


The real story of the crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can't pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren't talking.

Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar's Poker. Out of a handful of unlikely-really unlikely-heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our time. [ synopsis from goodreads ]




So lately I've had lots of trouble finding things I actually want to read for my free kindle prime borrow every month. (If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.) Anyway, with the film version of this having been nominated for several Oscars, I decided to give this one a try.

Well, it mostly felt like reading a finance book. For the first fifty or sixty pages, it gives you a crash course in subprime mortgage loans which is great... if you already have a baseline knowledge of finance/Wall Street/the stock market. Which I don't. (I'm starting to feel like that one economics course I once took failed me GREATLY.)

So needless to say, I was lost for about 90% of this book. But it took me about half of the book to realize that I wasn't actually the problem here. The reason it didn't make sense to me is that these concepts barely made sense to the people on WALL STREET. That's why this crisis could occur. Because hardly anyone understood it.

Once I realized that I wasn't getting this not because I'm really, really dumb but because even the people creating the loans didn't get it, I started feeling better about this book. Granted I can't really intelligently explain the concepts of this book. But I can talk about how dumb/greedy a lot of people are and how everything in this book made me really, really angry. (Plus I know more about regular mortgages now, which is cool.)

But what really made me love this book is the people it portrays. This is based on interviews with many people who really went through this. And I really enjoyed getting to know them through this book. I liked a great many of them and I think the deserve more recognition than what they got (especially Michael Burry). And their stories are really what kept me going even when I felt like this was just a book about finance which is exactly the last thing I would ever willingly read.

So I am very glad I read this book. It was a struggle and there were moments when I considered not finishing it. But I'm ultimately glad I pushed through. I do plan on seeing the movie and I'm hoping it maybe gives a little more of a finance background so I have a bit more basis than I had with this book?? But whatever the case, maybe the movie will serve me better in understanding.

This definitely wasn't a light read and I'm glad I took a little more time with it than I usually do so I could at least get more out of it. But it's probably not something I'll ever revisit? But, whatever the case, it's good information to have under my belt and I'm glad I now do!


review originally posted on goodreads