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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off The Heist Of The Century
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on 30 July 2012
I bought the Kindle version of this book as a "daily deal offer" without having heard of the film, which I have now bought (but not yet watched).

I previously had a fairly vague idea of the reasons behind the crisis, and tended to the view that yes the bankers were overpaid and greedy, but that we had all participated in borrowing and spending "easy money". I thought that the crisis was simply an unforseeable accident.

The book soon wiped away this view. Ferguson writes well and describes in easily understandable language just what was behind the crisis. He explains sub-prime mortgages, structured products, derivatives and hedge funds, CDOs and other exotic financial instuments. I now feel that I understand what these things are. Ferguson's writing style is clear and pleasurable to read, his only failing in this respect is that he often repeats things later on, but this is a minor irritation.

The book is well researched and backed up with extensive citations and references - the last 20% of the Kindle edition. What really opened my eyes was his detailed account of how the entire finance industry, banks, investment banks,mortgage lenders, ratings agencies, academics, regulators (in the USA) and insureres are all in each others pockets, with a common goal of self-enrichment at all costs. It is truly horrifying to learn that even when the property bubble was deflating, investment banks and insurers were offloading toxic assets onto unsuspecting investors, even betting (via "shorts") that these investment funds, sold to inexperienced or non-savvy institutions, would fail.

This book is a biting indictment of a system which rewards insiders by huge salaries and bonuses, while allows failure and fraud to go unpunished. The recent revelations of LIBOR rate fixing and HSBC's involvement in money laundering are not in fact very new, Ferguson points to them in the book.

Ferguson broadens his analysis to the current structures (and woes)of the US economic and social systems. I strongly recommend Inside Job as essential reading to anyone who wants to understand what happened in this crisis, and to the lack of any coherent political response to the dominance and rapacity of finance in the US (and the UK).
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on 18 January 2016
This book will probably make your blood boil. It shows just how corrupt the financial system has become - and how with its entanglement with the political classes it's unlikely that it will ever again be transparent enough to engender confidence. In retrospect deregulation of the financial industries looks like a bad thing.
It is largely focused on the US financial shenanigans and misbehaviour, along with the subsequent sweeping under carpets of the many mis-demeanours that have taken place - so if you're looking for details on the UK's part in the 2008 financial crisis this isn't it - but still worth reading. I read it on the beach during the summer and kept having to go for a swim in order to cool down!
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on 8 July 2012
I bought this having watched the film several times. The book has the advantage of being able to go into subjects in greater depth, with more examples, and whilst the film's awkward interviews and "xxxx declined to be interviewed" lines made for a good spectacle they ultimately made the film appear very one-sided. The book is much better at placing the 2008 crisis in context - comparing the banking "industry" with other large, complacent and often corrupt American industries of the past (cars, steel etc.); and also there's more on how banking and finance have contributed to a massive rise in income inequality over the past few decades - a rise which has masked declining living standards for the bulk of the US (and UK) population.

It's also more up-to-date, of course. However the final chapter on "What should be done" is very brief - none of the ideas are fully developed. And the book has several irritating typographical errors, especially near the beginning - the odd word missed out or two words conflated. Not to mention the use of the word "incented" instead of "incentivised"; not a word I was able to find in the dictionary online (English or American).
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on 21 January 2013
Ferguson has also done a documentary, but the book is better. The analysis is clear and convincing and touches areas which are not mentioned in other books. E.g., in comparison to Lewis' "Big short" Ferguson, offers a much more comprehensive analysis on the mechanisms that led to the meltdown. The main explanation that it was not in the individual actors' interests to blow the whistle, mainly because they did not stand to lose personally. And so much money was involved that you could corrupt anybody... So most people were quite aware that terrible things were happening, but still did nothing. Ferguson thinks it was grievously wrong that the main culprits have not been prosecuted, because only this would stop future crises from developing.
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on 18 September 2014
I found this kindle edition of this book hard to put down at times such was my interest in what he had to write. To coin a phrase it is right on the money, in my opinion (pardon the puns).

Divided up into 9 long chapters and a short tenth epilogue of reform ideas and actions that need to be taken, it is an exposition of ideas and thoughts on the events in financial markets and banking primarily in the United States, culminating in the recent financial crisis of 2008.

The first chapter is an overview of what is to follow in the book and the why of what it is about.

Chapter 2 is a short history of the "20 year period that led to the rise of a deregulated, concentrated, destabilizing financial sector". Chapter 3 covers mortgage lending, chapter 4 investment banking and related activities and chapter 5 the crisis and the behaviour it produced. Chapter 6 covers the case for criminal prosecutions resulting from the crisis. Chapter 7 and 9 deals with a wider analysis of American society and what the previous chapters context is and wider problems with the US economy and society with the huge ramifications for the rest of the world and political ideas at work there. Chapter 8 focuses on the world of academia principally that of economists and their part of the solution and the problem, by-in-large though their share of the problem.

There is a lot more to the story told in this book than sub prime mortgages and a few silly investors, it basically says if things don't change, the future does not look good particularly for the people of the USA but also with wider ramifications in the global economy. This is a worrying read and it could do with a follow up book on the context of financial crises in general originating in the USA and Wall Street and the impact and influence on recent i.e late 19th and 20th century history. i.e this book speaks to a wider pattern in history in my opinion. However this book is mainly concerned with recent events and calls for immediate action within the context it sets out. It is weak on future developments and the kind of reforms needed but its a good place to start. An important book with a constructive outlook, informative, well documented and with expert input from the author whose credentials appear sound.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 November 2013
Charles Ferguson in 'Inside Job' sets out incontrovertibly and in a highly readable fashion, how the much once highly respected financial industry and its senior executives went rogue. Through three decades of self-influenced, politically manipulated, and payola encouraged deregulation' the picture emerges of the corruption, and erosion of long standing ethical customer trust in bankers and financial advisers. The pursuit of the big green dollar massively flamed by the outrageous personal monetary incentives offered to anyone in an organisation who could book a profit however achieved, whether morally acceptable, principled, honest or not, was allowed to get completely and totally out of hand, particularly in all aspects of home mortgages, their subsequent collateralization, crazy casino gambling synthetic CDO's, and the highly questionable use of Credit Default Swaps by banks to hedge against dodgy, almost certain time bombs loaded with the worst possible sub prime rubbish, that the banks themselves had sold its own customers.

Political leaders when asked why little or no criminal action has been taken against the senior executives of companies that were actively involved in this business, simply claim that these people had not broken any of the laws of the country, and offer some less than confidence giving pledge to tighten up the laws governing the financial industry. However, Charles Ferguson meticulously examines a whole raft of existing and on the statute books laws, and details numerous examples of how these have been violated and by whom, thus exposing the 'no laws were broken' excuse as a downright falsehood.

Recently one of the concerns heavily involved in this sorry period of fiscal shame, JP Morgan has agreed to pay fines way in excess of $22 billion for its inexcusable performance in mainly the sub prime mortgage scandal. It is risible, and beyond the bounds of human credibility to believe that a company would pay $22 billion for something, that supposedly broke no laws. Obviously laws were ignored and trashed, but not one single CEO or other senior executive have faced criminal charges and been sent to prison....and there are many who should be answering for their part in this affair which has cost us all very dearly, many of them very well known financiers, who instead of languishing behind bars, stripped of their ill-gotten gains, continue to live the life of extreme opulence derived from their dubious business dealings. All right for some!

This is a very good and well argued thought provoking work but be prepared to be made angry at the ability of the very rich and influential to avoid the law, long periods of imprisonment, and confiscation of ill-gotten gains.
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on 30 December 2014
I bought this book as I was deluded by other books that were written about the financial crisis of 2008.
This book is absolutely excellent in 3 things

1) Documenting precisely with a lot of information about the people, institutions and companies involved in building up and dealing with the 2008 financial crisis. The author also does a brilliant job in presenting this material in a well connected way that really paints a picture of the situation and dynamics that led to the market collapse.
2) Analyzing the environment (political institutional and social) in which the conditions and behavior triggering the crisis built up. This is the kind of analysis you'd expect to find in history books for past events and is a joy seeing the approach used on a recent event, it really gives a chance to look at our era with the eye of someone trying to understand 2008 as a point in history and not as a self standing episode.
3) Questioning the social and political status quo that brought us so close to the collapse of the world economy and possibly of the society as we know it. The author poses a number of questions on what to expect next and where the trends that lead us to the crisis will lead us next.

I find that overall every minute spent on reading or thinking around the topic discussed in this book is a well invested minute.
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on 1 July 2012
It's a powerful expose, & a genuine rallying call against the dangers of poorly governanced hegemonies. I only withhold one star for what the author doesn't fully take on board, despite the title: it is the culture that needs reform. We all need to play our part in encouraging health & transparency, by recognising service where it is delivered, & reasoning or voting with our feet otherwise. "Them versus us" risks perpetuating the falsehood that allowed the idiotic disaster in the first place. Still, if this book rneans more folk feel empowered to take the issues seriously & demand proper answers, it will surely serve its purpose well.
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on 5 May 2013
I have always wondered that despite the fact the world was bought to its financial knees by the bankers from 2008, no-one has really been held to account - neither are they ever likely to be. This book explains it all; what happened, why it happened, who dunnit and who was let off and why! I can't wait for his sequel later this month (May 2013).
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on 4 March 2013
Detailed and insightful critique of corporate America, although Europe is mentioned too. The writing at times got a bit panic stricken. Overused the word 'toxic' and some facts were repeated several times but overall, an interesting book which made angry and sad all at the same time.
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