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The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History Hardcover – 3 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Business (3 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529914
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 872,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Simply terrific. Easily the best of the post-crash financial books (Malcolm Gladwell)

Greg Zuckerman was the first to tell the world about John Paulson's sensational trade . . . He's written the definitive account of a strange and wonderful subplot of the financial crisis (Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker)

A must-read for anyone fascinated by financial madness (Mail on Sunday)

A forensic, read-in-one-sitting book (Sunday Times)

Extraordinary, excellent (Observer)

Compelling (Economist)

Zuckerman takes us to Wall Street's heart of darkness, where mushroomed a $1 trillion subprime mortgage market that only the few, the brave, the smart dared short. This is at once a great page-turner and a great illuminator of the market's crash. (John Heylar, co-author of Barbarians at the Gate)

Much, much more than a brilliant account of Paulson's trade of the century; this book also provides a highly enjoyable and lucid journey through the analytical and emotional maze that constituted the financial markets on the eve of the Great Recession. Compulsory reading. (Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pacific Investment Management Co and author of When Markets Collide)

A magnificent insider look at how Paulson and others profited off of subprime's demise... insightful and gripping. (Marketfolly.com) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

GREGORY ZUCKERMAN is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, where he has been a reporter for twelve years. He pens the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and writes about hedge funds, investing, and other Wall Street topics. Zuckerman appears on CNBC twice a week to explain complex trades. He is a two-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the credit crisis, the demise of WorldCom, and the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors, and he is a recipient of other awards. 

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Cambridge Man on 23 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This well written book recounts how John Paulson and other like-minded contrarian traders & investors were able to pull off their version of the (in-)famous 'Soros Trade' -- except, instead of breaking the British Pound, Paulson et al. made their bones betting against a crumbling financial system using CDSs (credit default swaps) [basically, a derivative instrument that either allows you to insure against credit risk or make a pure bet against the credit-worthiness of companies, mortgages, cash flows, etc.]. In 2007, Paulson's hedge fund made $15 Billion (John Paulson's take home pay was $4 Billion -- the largest one year payout to an individual in financial history). Paulson made Soros' legendary trade look pedestrian! In fact, as the book recounts, George Soros actually invited John Paulson to give him a tutorial on trading with CDSs!

In years to come, I can safely predict that financial traders wanting to make a big score with a particularly grand bet will refer to it as a Paulson Trade rather than a Soros Trade. What John Paulson and others did was not easy to execute -- although, as the book makes clear, the concept is fairly straightforward (the credit market bubble was being inflated with toxic sludge) -- and I appreciate the fact that the book makes many of the missteps, hurdles, and shady practices of brokers/banks clear.

I'm glad I got this book asap (getting the US version ahead of the UK edition). It was well worth the extra effort. An enjoyable, entertaining, and potentially profitable read. At the very least, the reader can come away with a better understanding of how our easy credit economy fell apart to near depressionary levels.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By ArmchairContrarian on 16 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
If you only read one book about the credit crunch, don't make it this one. The author has an irritatingly breathless, tabloidy tone and doesn't understand the material well enough to judge what was truly impressive about Paulson's trade. Working out that the US housing market was set for a fall, did not a genius make...

The Lewis, Lanchester and Lowenstein books are all massively superior. Buy them instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gcrikey on 12 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
how did anyone make money in the global recession of 2008 - onwards... when the banks almost destroyed the world?

this book explains how, but doesn't bore you with algebra. i like this book because it tells you the thought process behind those who foresaw the economic disaster. really ineteresting read...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Race on 3 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a captivating read that have me enthralled from beginning to end.

It is greatly beneficial if you take time to understand the financial instruments that these guys were dealing with, but the book gives ample explanation all the same.

I loved this book and was quite saddened to finish it!
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Claffey on 29 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished this book as Robert Rubin was being grilled by a Senate committee about the financial meltdown. It struck me that the book described just the first act in something fundamental which is happening to the West's financial future.
Zuckerman, a Wall Street Journal reporter, describes the decline of the US property market from the point of view of the (few) winners; those who say it coming and figured out how to profit from the looming disaster. The winners it seems were quite few - John Paulson, a formerly obscure hedge fund manager, Jeffery Green a property speculator and Mike Burry, a fund manager based far from the New York financial scene. They all discovered that the newly developed CDS formed a deliciously asymmetric bet on the housing market - i.e. for a regular sequence of insurance -like payments, at cents in the dollar relative to the assets covered(CDOs), they stood to make vast profits if the unthinkable happened i.e. the US property market declined. It did, but when it did the financial destruction was so great that there was always the possibility that they would not get their money as potentially their counterparties would be bankrupted.
That's where the Western tax payers come in, some of the counterparties were banks and as the banks tottered US and other taxpayers stepped in to prevent them failing, i.e. taxpayers money went to pay off the CDO/CDS transactions. I reckon that at least 1billion of John Paulson's funds 12 billion profit came from the German governments rescue of IKB bank (this last is not in the book).

So the fascination is in watching this unfold. The events are so recent that we still have a sense of the breath-taking audacity of those that felt the property market could crash.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Rubython on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the sort of book that should be impossible to write because of getting the intimate access required to the main players. There was nothing in it for John Paulson to let his guard down as he undoubtedly did. It cannot be anything but an excellent book because of the subject. Criticizing the author's writing style as others have done is pointless as the author is a top journalist on the Wall Street Journal. You don't get to be that unless you are a very good writer and he is.
Anyone who is interested in finance should read this book and I suspect most of them have. It's the sort of book that needs reading two or three times to pick up all the nuances contained within. A bit like Edwin Le Fevre's book on Jesse Livermore this will become a classic read-over book. I read it immediately when it came out on Kindle and it remains the first and only book I have read electronically because I was so keen to get my hands on it in the UK. I'm going to reread it now - hence this review.
If there is criticism it is that the actual method and instruments John Paulson used to make his trades isn't explained in enough detail. Anyone reading this book probably wanted the detail but one can understand why the turgid detail was deleted by the book's editors as it undoubtedly was.
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