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Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash [Hardcover]

Charles R Morris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash 4.2 out of 5 stars (15)
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Book Description

1 April 2008
The sub-prime mortgage crisis is only the beginning: A more profound economic and political restructuring is on its way.We are living in the most reckless financial environment in recent history. Arcane credit derivative bets are now well into the tens of trillions.According to Charles R Morris, the astronomical leverage at investment banks and their hedge fund and private equity clients virtually guarantees massive disruption in global markets. The crash, when it comes, will have no firebreaks. A quarter century of free-market zealotry that extolled asset stripping, abusive lending and hedge fund secrecy will come crashing down with it."The Trillion Dollar Meltdown" explains how we got here and what is about to happen. After the crash our priorities will be quite different. But things are likely to get worse before they get better. This book will be indispensable to understanding the gross excess that has put the world economy on the brink - and what the new landscape will look like.

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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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


'(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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good coverage of the basics. 27 Aug 2008
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, readable account 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Prescient and a great read 10 Dec 2008
By Yorkie
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
3.0 out of 5 stars OK for some basics 2 Mar 2009
By tomsk77
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read for a long flight
This is an easy read, but if you have seen the film "Inside Job" there won't be much new for you here. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gordon Ramel
3.0 out of 5 stars Generally good review of the events leading to 2008 crisis, but...
This is a generally good and informative account of (most of) the events, some dating back decades, that led to the popping of the credit bubble in 2008. Read more
Published on 17 July 2012 by Donald Barlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice if you can wait looooong.
Nice book, nice price, but 21 days to receive it... I guess its too much.

But besides that... fine! but have that in mind if you are in a hurry
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by Luis
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read.
I am really interested in the world economic meltdown and wanted a book to read about what caused the meltdown in simple terms. Read more
Published on 1 July 2011 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A short economic history since the 1950's
In 169 pages, Charles Morris provides an overview of the US economy since 1950's, focusing on the last 10 years and the 2007 crash. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2009 by LoveLife Reading List
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, concise and well-written
A brief financial history since WW2 with emphasis on the last 10 years.

Written by someone who knows the subject from the inside, avoiding unnecessary lingo (still you... Read more
Published on 17 July 2009 by J. Alan
5.0 out of 5 stars Just in time?
This analysis was written just in time to predict the last of the crisis. And is written well,crispy, easy to grasp. But is this The Last Chrisis? Not really. What have learned? Read more
Published on 23 May 2009 by R. Zavnik
4.0 out of 5 stars some good bits
It confirms what I suspected: hedge funds and banks are interdependent, and each others' customers. The whole thing, in fact, is a gigantic Ponzi scheme, with them all selling (the... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2009 by MrB
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine study of this great crash
Charles Morris, an American writer, lawyer and former banker, has written a useful account of the long-building credit crash. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2008 by William Podmore
1.0 out of 5 stars Undefined jargon by the shedload
After a very good start (first 2 chapters) in which the author summarizes the development of US economics from 1900 to the Reagan-Thatcher era, the book rapidly deteriorates into a... Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2008 by G. Turner
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