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Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity [Paperback]

Michael Lewis
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.99
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Book Description

4 Dec 2008

Edited by the bestselling author of Liar's Poker, Michael Lewis, Panic! Tbe Story of Modern Financial Insanity gives us a completely new insight into how markets really operate - and who really knows what they're talking about.

From Black Monday to the Asian financial crisis, from the internet bubble to mortgage meltdown, our lives are ruled by crazy cycles of euphoria and hysteria that manage to grip the world but are all-too-soon forgotten.

In this unique collection of articles Michael Lewis - ex-trader and bestselling chronicler of greed and frenzy in the markets - casts a sceptical eye back over the most panicked-about panics of recent decades. He tells a story of boom and bust, deranged greed, outsized egos and over-inflated salaries, where the only thing that can ever be predicted is our constant inability to predict anything.

Using contemporary accounts from commentators such as Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman, plus many of his own best writings, Lewis conveys the mood before each catastrophe, what it was like in the heat of the moment, how, afterwards, we tried to explain away the chaos - and then failed to learn from it before the whole process started all over again.

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s, Panic!, Moneyball, later adapted into a film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, and Boomerang. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, columnist for Bloomberg and Slate.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141042311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141042312
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and also writes for Vanity Fair and Portfolio magazine. He is married with three children.

Product Description

Review

In this enlightening (and frightening) anthology, the Moneyball and Liar s Poker author collects the best reporting and analysis of every Wall Street crisis of the past twenty years. As a source of aid in these troubled times, the book s only competition is a bottle of Scotch. " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s.

Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, columnist for Bloomberg and Slate. He is married with children.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Unless you feel compelled to read every word that Michael Lewis writes, skip this book.

Panic! is a very peculiar concept for a book: Assemble mostly stories by journalists (and a few pundits) to describe the mood before, during, and after market crashes . . . while also providing a little understanding of "why" the market crashed. To me, that's a little like expecting sports journalists to predict who will be the best-performing athletes next season . . . and then explain why their predictions didn't pan out.

What do journalists know about financial markets? Based on reading these articles, precious little.

There are occasional gems that bear reading and serious consideration, but they are too few and too far between.

The articles are grouped around the market collapses that began with the October 1987 meltdown driven and aided by "portfolio insurance" program trades and move on to the currency runs on Thailand and Russia in 1997 and 1998, the Internet stock collapse in 2000, and the subprime mortgage fiasco recently spreading into the stock market crash of 2008-.

I predict that most readers will find the articles "describing" 1987 to be pretty confusing. There are better articles written about the period that are omitted from this collection. The currency runs are only slightly less confusing. The last two disasters are easier to follow if you aren't an economist or someone who watches CNBC six hours a day.

The standout of all the articles is the essay by Dave Barry, "How to Get Rich in Real Estate," from Dave Barry's Money Secrets. It's hilarious and right on. It's too bad the rest of the writing isn't as good.

Don't get me wrong.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and disappointing except for... 16 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
...page 264 'how to get rich in real estate' by Dave Barry is very very funny!
the rest of this book is just hundreds of old articles about old stock market crashes
some of these are taken from Liar's Poker and The Money Culture by Lewis.
This is a pretty cynical money making compendium of old articles by financial journalists.
Apart from Dave Barry's short and hilarious piece it's a total waste of time and money!
JP :(
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg 3 Jun 2009
By A. I. Mackenzie VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The first thing to note is that Micheal Lewis edits this collection and doesn't write it - which is a shame as he writes better than most other financial pundits.

The book is bitty, it starts with the 1987 crash which it handles poorly, I skipped most of the stuff on the Asian Crisis, as it wasn't of much interest to me. After this point the book improves substantially, Dave Barry's essay "How to Get Rich in Real Estate" is the funniest thing I've read in years, but it's available online for free. ML recycles a couple of old essays, and adds a good new one re-assessing his take on the 1987 crash and deciding that this was the point the quants (boffins) took over finance.

The more current essays are more interesting but the quality of the articles vary quite widely and you really miss the sure touch of Michael Lewis's writing. On this evidence ML is a better writer than editor.
The book is worth getting out of the library but not buying, a missed opportunity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating articles on financial mania 26 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, an account of Wall Street in the 1980s, has edited this fascinating collection. The articles are by Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Krugman, Robert Shiller, Lester Thurow, the Economist, the New York Times and Lewis himself, among others. They look at the US stock market crash of 1987, the 1997 Southeast Asia crisis, the 1998 collapse in Russia, the dotcom bubble bust of 2000 and the crash of 2007.

Throughout, City of London and Wall Street traders were `making a fortune from the misery of others', as Lewis noted. The IMF made things worse by always forcing countries to cut spending and raise taxes. In 1997-98, it told Brazil and Russia to defend their currencies and raise interest rates (which benefited Wall Street, if not Brazil and Russia). Stiglitz concluded, "capital market liberalization ... is dangerous. It was not an accident that the only two major developing countries to be spared a crisis were India and China. Both had resisted capital market liberalization. Yet today, both are under pressure to liberalize."

In 1998 short-term money panic, ironically, destroyed the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management. But the US government vetoed proposals to curb speculation, improve debt restructuring and restrict bank secrecy.

Stiglitz wrote in July 2007, "the fact that so many countries hold large reserves means that the likelihood of the problem spreading into a global financial crisis is greatly reduced." Wrong, Joe - capitalism isn't that rational.

The City, like Wall Street, is a casino. US credit agencies rated bonds using a formula called - appropriately - the Monte Carlo simulation. The City's only purpose is to make money for its members. Its speculators make their profits by taking wealth from savers and investors and gambling with it.

The City serves no any wider public, social or economic purpose. Its claims to place resources where they maximise growth are bogus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a reader 28 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
In Dutch universities (and possibly elswhere), they would call this "a reader", a collection of texts usefull to the uninitiated. People who read "this time its different", Lewis's Liars poker etc. find little news.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great buy
As with all Michael Lewis books, it is a great read. Be careful though you could get hooked to finance. Great booked!!
Published 14 months ago by Erica
4.0 out of 5 stars We Never Learn
As an overview of several recent financial panics, you're left wondering just when it will happen again. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2012 by Jim 8888
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Not a book to sit down and read in one go, but some very interesting articles on various financial crises that have hit the markets over the last quarter century, from the crash of... Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Phil O'Sofa
5.0 out of 5 stars How it happened
Taken with Michael Lewis's previous book, Liar's Poker, which showed how young (mainly) men get into the banking machine, this book gives a clear understanding of how the system... Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2011 by Mike1930
5.0 out of 5 stars Tricky but great (a review for A level/GCSE students)
Panic! (The History of Modern Financial Insanity) is like no book I have read. This is not surprising considering it is written by ex-bond sales man Michael Lewis, a man who used... Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2011 by Jonathan D. Martin
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting articles but basically a cash in
There are plenty of decent articles in this volume but it is pretty lightweight.
It is interesting just how inaccurate some of them have proved to be. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2010 by The Emperor
5.0 out of 5 stars History through the eyes of those who were there
This book collects together essays and other writings from the time of 4 major financial panics (crises) over the last 25 years. Read more
Published on 3 July 2010 by G. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars lesson learned
Michael Lewis book is about the mad situation in the stock market. It is a collection of different articles over the last decade. Read more
Published on 27 April 2009 by Bernd Kotz
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