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Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (Financial Times Series) Paperback – 26 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 1 edition (26 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0273723979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0273723974
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.8 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Satyajit Das is an internationally respected expert in finance, with over 30 years' experience. He worked for the "sell side" (banks such as Citicorp Investment Bank and Merrill Lynch), the "buy side" (Treasurer of the TNT Group) and acted as a consultant advising banks, investors, corporations and central banks throughout the world. He has been within touching distance of many of the pivotal events in finance during his long career.

Das presciently anticipated many aspects of the Global Financial Crisis in his 2006 book Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives In a speech that year - The Coming Credit Crash - he argued that: "an informed analysis of the structured credit markets shows that risk is not better spread but more leveraged and (arguably) more concentrated amongst hedge funds and a small group of dealers. This does not improve the overall stability and security of the financial system but exposes it to increased risk of a "crash" during a credit downturn." He has continued to be a respected commentator on developments in the crisis, accurately anticipating many subsequent phases.

He was featured in Charles Ferguson's 2010 Oscar winning documentary Inside Job and a 2009 BBC TV documentary - Tricks with Risk.

Das is the author of many highly regarded books on derivatives and risk management, which are regarded as standard reference works for professional traders. In 2006, he published the international best seller Traders, Guns & Money, a satirical insider's account of derivatives trading. The Financial Times described it as explaining "not only the high-minded theory behind the business and its various products but the sometimes sordid reality of the industry".

His latest book is Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (2011) described by Nouriel Roubini as: "A true insider's devastating analysis of the financial alchemy of the last 30 years and its destructive consequences. With his intimate first-hand knowledge, Das takes a knife to global finance and financiers to reveal its inner workings without fear or favor."

He appears regularly in the media in the US, Canada, UK, Australian, New Zealand, India and South Africa. His opinion pieces appear in prestigious publications throughout the world including the Financial Times. His blogs can be found on a number of on-line financial sites, including www.wilmott.com, www.roubini.com, www.minyanville.com, www.eurointelligence.com, www.nakedcapitalism.com and www.prudentbear.com.

Product Description

Review

Long listed for Financial Times/ Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2011

 

Listed in Bloomberg’s Top Business Books of the Year 2011

 

One of ninemsn.com.au’s best business books of 2011

 

"…a powerful book…highly readable and informative…Anyone who decodes the ratings of the three major agencies so amusingly – CCC means "Russian roulette with five bullets in the chamber" and D means "scrape your brains off the wall and place in a plastic bag"- demands to be read."
Lindsay Tanner, former Australian Minister of Finance inThe Monthly, August 2011

" While the run-up to the global financial crisis has been well documented, Das provides his own unique insights."
Luke Faulkner, Hedge Funds Review, August 2011

"...virtually in a category of its own – part history, part book of financial quotations, part cautionary tale, part textbook. It contains some of the clearest charts about risk transfer you will find anywhere. ...Others have laid out the dire consequences of financialisation ("the conversion of everything into monetary form", in Das’s phrase), but few have done it with a wider or more entertaining range of references...[Extreme Money] does... reach an important, if worrying, conclusion: financialisation may be too deep-rooted to be torn out. As Das puts it – characteristically borrowing a line from a movie, Inception – "the hardest virus to kill is an idea".  
Andrew Hill "Eclectic Guide to the Excesses of the Crisis" Financial Times, 17 August 2011

“an idiosyncratic yet withering analysis of how 30 years of financial alchemy and excessive credit have plunged us into what feels like a slow-motion depression… addresses, one by one, the overarching themes of the great credit boom and bust of the late 20th century.

Black humor is Das’ natural medium, and he gave me a rueful chuckle every few pages. You know that a writer is hard to pigeonhole when the advance praise compares him to both Candide and Hunter S. Thompson. I prefer to view Das as a modern-day Ishmael with an attitude, a weathered seaman who has witnessed firsthand the crazed hunt of hedge-fund captains for alpha, the great whale of superior investment returns.

… I could only endorse the conclusion. “There is no simple, painless solution” to the fix we’re in, Das writes. “The world has to reduce debt, shrink the financial part of the economy, and change the destructive incentive structures in finance. Individuals in developed countries have to save more and spend less.”
Doomsday Debt Machine Roars as Wizard Das Chides Buffett: Books, By James Pressley, Sep 19 2011

“ a fast paced ride...Das manages to be both an insider and outsider – much of what he covers is based on first hand experience...there’s no of the faux glamour that infuses many otherwise critical books on finance.... this is a thoughtful, interesting and unusual book that deserves to jostle for shelf space alongside classics such as Charles Kindleberger’s Manias, Panics and Crashes and Devil Take The Hindmost by Edward Chancellor. It is well worth a read by anyone seeking to grasp the broader impact of the recent crisis."
Chris Sholto Heaton, Money Week, November 2011

 

“...Mr Das has a keen eye for an anecdote ....   give[s] the reader plenty of chances to chuckle at the hubris he reveals.. the views of people like Mr Das were consistently ignored in the run-up to the debt crisis..”

More luck than judgment, The Economist, 15 October 2011

 

“...Extreme Money is not about the financial crisis, as such. It is about the history of money and the journey that brought us to 2011. Das writes in a clear, straightforward manner that is approachable to all readers and takes in a diverse range of references from Hollywood movies to mediaeval literature, with plenty of gags and reflections from his career in the industry, which make for an easy read.”

Nick Ferguson  “A history of extreme money”, 21 September 2011, Finance Asia

 

 

"…exposes the shambles of a system characterised by bogus and failed economic market theory, a shamelessly rapacious finance industry, and a broad failure by governments to protect either their citizens or their productive industries from a finance industry driven by the most perverse incentives….Das writes colourfully, in short punchy sections, and countless memorable aphorisms…Politicians, please read this book."

Richard Thwaites “Dangerous money games” Canberra Times, 17 September 2011

 

“Das is a chatty writer, with a style that combines elegance with wit, erudition and a large dollop of cynicism. He is also widely read, given to inventing unusual metaphors and quoting from sources as diverse as Trollope and Groucho Marx. As a result, he has succeeded in producing an entertaining page-turner on a subject considered both numbingly dull as well as frighteningly opaque.”

Devangshu Datta “World money, salted and seasoned” Business Standard, 16 December 2011

 

“ Extreme Money is about much more than the financial crisis. ... Das is writing about the society that has been built under the suzerainty of finance over the last few decades. He uses the references to highlight, underline and contrast some of the features of this crazy society. At one level, Das gives us the conventional narrative of the crisis. ...At another level, he elaborates on the economic theory that provided the intellectual sustenance for the financial revolution. ... But at a more fundamental level, this book is about the corruption in values caused by what Das terms Extreme Money, by which he means not only the dangerous speculative games played with money, but also the attitudes and culture that have emerged out of casino capitalism. At the deepest level, this book is about hubris and the nemesis that inevitably follows.”

Manas Chakravarty “The money shot:The global society formed by the financial currents of the last few decades” Live Mint , 9 December 2011

 

“This is probably the finest financial history of the period.... , it tells with great authority the real story of modern finance—how money mutated into a rogue virus— something that finance students will otherwise never know. The book is a mirror of our financial times, a must-read for all.”

Debashis Basu  “Extreme Money: Modern Finance—The Rogue Virus” Moneylife, 24 December 2011

 

“...Das dons a professorial cap to weave financial history and popular culture into an entertaining and blistering social critique of how so many have come to chase endless financial reflections of the real economy...”

“No loss in the telling” Hindustan Times 23 December 2011

 

“ Extreme Money is a morality tale of the cascade of massive wealth into the pockets of financial wizards at the cost of the stability of the global financial system.... a cautionary tale from Faust warning what happens to those who trade their souls for lucre."

Andrew Allentuck, Financial Post,5 Noof financial alchemy...  lays bare the investment bankers’ schemes and machinations which culminated in the worldwide financial crisis and Great Recession of 2007 to date.... an illuminating text that has much to teach you about the world of high finance.”

Thomas Herold “An Inside Look Into The Masters of The Financial Sandbox”, 30 August 2011

 

 

“Das' irreverent and sardonic wit permeates the book, making it an enjoyable read despite its dark tone.”

Barbara Whelehan “Money books for holiday giving” Bankrate.com, December 16 2011

 

"...an absolutely brilliant examination of the world of money and finance... a realistic, confronting and amazing critique of the machinations and workings of the global financial industry.. an enlightening dissection of the world of high finance, policy making, and supposed regulation, and reveals how illusory is the ability of central banks and governments to control and manage economies ... The amount and depth of information in this book is amazing. It is essential reading for all those with an interest in the financial markets, delving into areas and subjects that most writers with a vested interest in the markets don't and won't cover.."

Your Trading Edge (May-June 2012)

 

 

 

From the Back Cover

'A true insider’s devastating analysis of the financial alchemy of the last 30 years and its destructive consequences.  With his intimate first-hand knowledge, Das takes a knife to global finance and financiers to reveal its inner workings without fear or favor.'

-Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics

 

'Das describes the causes of the financial crisis with the insight and understanding of a financial wizard, the candor and objectivity of an impartial observer, and a wry sense of humor that reveals the folly in it all.'

Brooksley Born, former chairperson of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

 

Once upon a time human society built things. We engineered beautiful objects and created authentic goods. Now this real industrial engineering has been replaced by financial engineering: shuffling money in an endless process of debt, trading and speculation. It’s enabled vast fortunes to be made for a few, while the risk was borne by ordinary people – the 'privatisation of gain' and 'socialisation of losses'.

 

Extreme Money tells the story of spectacular and dangerous money games and those elite bankers, traders and financiers, the so-called Masters of the Universe, who continue to play them. Written by an insider, Extreme Money will show you how, little by little, we’ve all become slaves to financial alchemy and have been enchanted by our own illusory creation: the cult of global finance.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mingulay29 on 22 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I felt I should like this book. But supposedly knowing your area well does not mean you can write about it. One reviewer alluded to the problem with this book - lack of "flow". It jumps around all over the place, then comes back to tell more about something dealt with previously but where? His other book (Guns etc) was the same. I gave up, sort of blaming myself. It's a mishmash, a hodgepodge of a book full of anecdotes that sound interesting but don't really add much to what is known. Then I read Michael Lewis' The Big Short and it reminded me what an excellent writer he is. Das' Work reminds me of the chaotic Masters lecturer I once had who would bring in a heap of photocopies, none of them in order, and we would spend half an hour trying to get the pages we needed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KG on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Das' bold new inside story on the modern world of money will fascinate, enlighten and enrage finance professionals, their clients and industry outsiders. His narrative blends wisdom and wit from throughout the ages. Where else can you meet a colourful cast of thousands from Napoleon to Buffett, Madoff, Soros, Keynes, Greenspan, Elvis, Gecko, Beckham and even The Pope?

This is a candid, epic journey weaving economic and social history with popular culture.
Disturbing at times, yet jam-packed with rarely-told war stories and anecdotes, Das carefully peels away the rotten skin to allow you a glimpse inside this illusory system. You'll discover how and why oligarchs, crooks and charlatans - many masquerading as industry professionals - continue to pillage the global investment world.

Extreme money can be defined as dangerous sophisticated games with debt, leverage and derivatives that unleash steroid-fuelled, phantom and unsustainable levels of consumption, growth and prosperity. In Das' words: "once used to value and exchange goods, money has become the main way to make money...(we) mistook money, a lubricant of society and the economy, for an end in itself". We worshipped the wrong deity. And we will have to pay the inevitable price.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Kaul on 18 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Satyajit Das first gave us Traders, Guns and Money, a delightful book on how the derivatives market across the world really works.
Now he has given us Extreme Money, a book which captures the financial crisis as it has happened and evolved till now beautifully. Das references from a wide area of subjects, from movies to Shakespeare to his own experiences as one of the world's foremost derivatives expert, and gives us a book with great acerbic wit as well as in-depth analysis of the financial crisis.
The book has been written in the style of a Ludlum thriller and the arguments just keep coming at you. And by the end of it all, you wonder, how does this guy know so much? The book is a must read for anyone who "really" wants to understand the times that we live in. Das doesn't spare anybody, be it the investment banks and the hedge funds of Wall Street which caused the crisis or the governments across the world who are trying to clear it up and in the process making an even bigger mess.
I sincerely hope that few years down the line, when the crisis has evolved further, Das is ready with a sequel. Because as they say when they say, you ain't seen nothing yet!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rex Morrison on 2 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Satyajit Das' new book "Extreme Money" has weaknesses, but these do not stop the book being a five-star read. The book is essential reading by anyone (everyone?) who has an inkling that the western world's financial market system over the past 25+ years has evolved into a giant Ponzi scheme. The book proves your inkling is correct and does so with the presentation of well-compiled and convincing evidence at the level of both illustrative individual transactions and of the financial system as a whole.

Das is one of the few people in the world who has the knowledge, skills and practical experience to go substantially beyond making generalized and unsupported pronouncements. He's a details person and these details help the rest of us understand aspects of market behavior that are not self-evident. For instance, read of why (swap) derivative transactions are off balance sheet transactions (page 242) and of Lehman Brothers' flip clause in its legal documentation (page 255).

Das' book is outrageously critical of virtually every entity that has been associated with "extreme money" creation over the past 25 years, regulators included. But his criticism is warranted. The financial leverage the western world has experienced in recent years has been extraordinary and most of us have been happy to ride the wave of (apparent) prosperity for all it was worth ... until now.
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