Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 5 September 2015
There is a lot of detail here. A lot. If you're looking for everything that there is to know on what went on between the release of 'Is MBIA Triple A?' and the 2008 crash then you will love this book.

Personally, I found that the narrative got lost because of the detail. At times the story was slow moving and I'd often think 'what happened in the last chapter?' There are some smaller details that don't make sense such as defining acronyms only after they've been used multiple times and then sometimes re-defining them again later on (honesty, do we need to know what CEO means by the time we're 2/3 of the way through the book!) I completely agree that these are small details, but the whole premise of the book is that the devil is in the details. I knew what I was in for, too; having watched Ackman's 3hr presentation on Herbal Life - where Christine features - the level of detail they go in to is astonishing, but paper format was materially less engaging than their presentation.

No doubt Ackman is an absolute genius, and that certainly comes across. You sympathise with his struggle to get people to listen to him and the sheer amount of effort that he puts in really in inspiring to any future HF managers or equity analysts. You'll finish the book with an appreciation for him.

All in all, it's a little too dry and Einhorn's book 'Fooling Some of the People...' is a more entertaining read whilst covering a similar-themed story albeit on a different company.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 25 September 2015
The 2nd time I have read this book. I am a big Ackman fan but I don't think this book is just for Ackman lovers. Even if you hate the man, the book gives you an insight into what it takes to thoroughly research a company over many years and to go against the grain. Short-selling is completely different from other forms of investing psychology due to the constant negative reinforcement you receive. Taking on a giant and saying that the emperor has no clothes is a completely different kettle of fish
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 October 2010
Christine Richard writes an excellent insight into bond insurers and how they were brought down to earth by one man, Bill Ackman - a hedge fund manager who fought a long and at times 'bloody' battle to bring the financial community's attention to deliberate major under-reserving of potential losses in the largest company in this line of insurance, The Municipal Bond Insurance Association (MBIA).

At first, Bond Insurers were on to a good little earner, by stuffing enough money into their capital account to attract a Triple A rating from Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch rating agencies, and then offering to guarantee municipal bonds thus endowing each bond 'underwritten' with a AAA rating making it easier and cheaper to attract investors. As it was virtually unheard of for a municipality to be allowed to 'go bad' on the interest or capital repayment of one of its bonds, the risk to the bond insurer was effectively non-existent and only attracted a modest premium.

So far so good. But then greed entered the arena and the bond insurers looked to other classes of lending to guarantee, thinking their money- making formula was watertight. Alas they chose bonds securitised with risky mortgages and dodgy credit card loans, which without their AAA rating would have proven much more difficult or impossible to market.

Bill Ackman's research discovered that MBIA were not acknowledging the much greater incidence of bad debt and therefore potential claims, that this type of debt was incurring when the economy started its 'credit crunch' nosedive and that the company has heading towards disastrous unreserved losses. Yes, as a Hedge Fund Manager he sought to take advantage of what he was confident of, viz. massive losses causing MBIA's shares to collapse, by taking short positions that eventually made him huge profits. However, starting in 2002 he became extremely active and vocal in bringing everyone's attention to what he considered was a conspiracy by MBIA to reveal the true extent of these losses thus fraudulently putting existing and future shareholders to a severe disadvantage.

As in many other similar cases of 'whistle-blowing'recently, notably Harry Markopolos in connection with Bernard Madoff ("No One Would Listen") and David Einhorn and Allied Capital ("Fooling Some Of The People All Of The Time")
the SEC chose not only to ignore the timely and accurate warnings but launched a series of 'spiteful' retaliatory actions against those bringing the facts to its attention. Strange and incomprehensible. The delay occasioned by the SEC refusal to take heed of these various dire warnings cost investors an estimated extra $44 billion of losses in the Madoff fraud and countless $billions in the cases of MBIA and Allied. And we all thought The SEC was on our side!

An extremely well written and researched book, easily understood by a comparative layman, giving an excellent understanding into the workings of the municipal bond market but alas little or no confidence in the governance of the regulatory bodies supposedly there to protect investors.

Quoting from a review of this book by noted financial author Frank Partnoy, "Finally, a financial crises book with a hero..........Ackman emerges as the Don Quixote of financial markets: you will root for him and a happy ending."
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 17 April 2017
Very detailed and extremely interesting to read. I like the mini insights to Bill Ackman's life outside the office too, you get to learn about his character in a rounded way
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 4 January 2015
Well researched and written, and puts you in the seat of Ackman in researching and hanging onto a big trade - makes you think ... Would I have had the stamina...?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 16 March 2015
Great account of Bill Ackman's long term short position on MBIA. Author Christine Richards is now working as part of Ackman's team working on his short position on Herbalife.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 24 February 2013
Great book giving a solid background to Bill Ackman's career whilst providing colour to the run up 2007/2008 credit meltdown
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 20 August 2010
A comprehensive and accurate telling of what many consider the first chapter of the credit crisis - a prelude to Bear Stearns and Lehman. The book is slightly one sided in its analysis, as it is about Ackman rather than the monolines. This is probably the biggest weakness. There were plenty of reasons the monolines did make sense, but this doesn't fit with the story and instead it focuses on Ackman and his views. The initial reasons for Ackman shorting the monolines were his views on muni insurance, not CDO's of subprime. Ackman remained dogmatically short of Ackman and was ultimately proved right, but not for the reasons he originally seemed to set out.

In part of the book the actions of MBIA are characterised as being underhand when they threaten to no longer insure a municipalities issuance if they don't stay current on the existing debt. This is rather missing the point of the monolines, after all why would you continue to offer to insure debt issuance if the municipality (or related municipality) has a history of default. Ultimately the insurance was for the benefit the debt holder, not the issuer. The issuer did however benefit from a lower cost of issuance.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse