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Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash Hardcover – 1 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586485636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586485634
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 15.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 661,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The first big book on the credit crunch saw the crisis coming three years ago ... (Morris s) provocative book is a well-aimed opening shot in a debate that will only grow louder in coming months. --The Economist

(t)his is a scary book for scary times... Morris provides a fascinating and clear chronicle of how a good idea turned into so many bad loans. --Spectator Business

Review

'(Morris) explain(s) in clear prose, and in a book that is barely more than a monograph, the blow-up in the world's financial markets. Morris traces the origins of the credit bubble to the illusion that clever financial engineering was the same as efficiently managing risk. He is justifiably harsh on the regulatory failures that hastened the crisis, but he is no dogmatist. He acknowledges the merits of financial innovation, and his model for reform is the tough monetary policy that defeated inflation in the 1980s. A similarly painful reckoning now - a huge write-down of assets - is necessary to resuscitate the financial system."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Too many books on 27 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you are buying any other books, or reading any other articles on the recent "credit crunch", you should seriously consider getting this book too. The writer is a lawyer, and in very precise plain clear language, describes how each of the new types of financial instrument, from "put" to "synthetic collateralized debt obligation", works, covering why people originally developed them, and how people have gone on to use and enhance them. It then covers all the risks that have developed as a result of their use in practice, and briefly covers the overall financial consequences, as far as people understand them. This includes talking about various regulatory failures that have contributed to the crisis.

He then makes an overall estimate of the kinds of losses that are likely. Although the real losses are looking even more serious now, several months later, he gives figures and estimates in his reasoning that enable you to get some kind of overall picture of the problems. His focus is almost entirely on the United States, but the financial instruments used elsewhere are the same, and the regulatory failures similar.

If you are reading other accounts of the developing crisis, this is a very good place to get the basic technical information on what everyone is talking about. Some books leap into explanations, with only very brief, and sometimes misunderstood, accounts of the financial instruments involved. Even if you disagree with some of Morris's points of view or conclusions, his clear account of how each financial instrument works is still very helpful.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andreas Kaempf on 10 July 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this very short book (169 pages plus notes) very helpful in understanding what the "credit crunch" is about--what caused it, what the current imbalances in the financial system are, and how it may unravel. It starts further back in time than I would have expected (the 1950s to 1970s), but does this to explain the regulatory and financial stage on which the bubble of credit was born. Financial and economic terms are explained, without dumbing things down. Really excellent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Yorkie on 10 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read this shortly after it was published before many of the events in the current financial & economic crisis unfolded. Over the past few months I have seen its reasoning and predictions born out many times. There are still other predictions which only the future will prove one way or the other but having seemed more fanciful at the time of writing to many mainstream analysts now seem anything but. This is the best book I have read on the credit crisis and, whilst I have some background in finance, unlike a previous viewer I didn't think that it overwhelmed with terminology - I thought it explained complex finance in a very readable manner. I was originally a bit suspicious about a finance book written by a lawyer but I have to concede that this is an impressive account.

Once you've read this, if you haven't read it already and are interested for more, JK Galbraith's account of the Wall Street Crash of the 1930's is great reading and very relevant today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tomsk77 on 2 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book has one big plus point - it explains very clearly some of the technical stuff at the heart of the credit crunch. If you want a brief and readable overview of the types of financial instruments (CDOs, credit default swaps etc) that banks have created and how they work, plus some of the detail on on the various market actors, then this is quite a useful book, and cheap in the paperback. And the section seeking to quantify potential losses is interesting, though probably out of date.

I'm less impressed with some of his analysis, which strikes me as a little basic. Even though I'm broadly of the same opinion in terms of his commentary on increasing inequality of the past 3 decades, it's pretty thin stuff (though from memory I think he acknowledges this). In addition I don't really buy the idea of cycles in politics, I think that's an expression of a desire for an understandable narrative more than anything.

And a text moan - the endnotes are presented in a really messy way, all run-on together in big paragraphs which does not make for an accessible quick reference guide. I'm a bit bothered by the reliance on media sources too.

But given the price this is worth picking up if you just want to get your head around some of the basics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mariusz Skonieczny on 15 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I think this book one of the easiest to read on the subject. The author explains the origins of financial instruments such as credit default swaps, and most importantly, how they contributed to the financial meltdown. Since I already had a pretty good idea of what caused the crisis, I found it very valuable to read about different schools of economy and how they played a role in the situation. He argues that the Chicago School of Economics which is based on free market with little regulation failed miserably. However, he acknowledges that this philosophy was the major contributor to prosperity since the 1970s. He believes that now is the time for the government to intervene much more to create prosperity in the future. I enjoyed reading this book.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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