Book Review: The Big Short

Michael Lewis, of Liar’s Poker fame, has written an engaging account of the role that subprime lending played in the global financial crisis. The new book is called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

The jargon that Lewis uses is generally explained and shouldn’t prevent non finance geeks from understanding the role of subprime lenders, mortgage originators and, of course, the Wall Street banks that fed the frenzy with CDSs, synthetic CDOs and bonuses for all.

The story places a few characters at the centre of the story. I wasn’t convinced that these guys were all skill and no luck, but they certainly seemed to have a clearer idea of what was going on in the murky, muddy waters of securitisations of that era than many of the supposed experts.

Overall, it’s won’t be the smash hit that Liar’s Poker is, but it’s entertaining reading all the time. The links to Gutfreund are tenuous and smell a little of name-dropping. If Lewis wanted to remind the reader of his role in toppling the ex CEO of Salomon Brothers he succeeded. If he wanted to somehow project the glory onto the new book, he failed.

The Big Short at

The Big Short at

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Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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