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Previously published as The Trillion Dollar Meltdown

Now fully updated with the latest financial developments, this is the bestselling book that briefly and brilliantly explains how we got into the economic mess that is the Credit Crunch. With the housing markets unravelling daily and distress signals flying throughout the rest of the economy, there is little doubt that we are facing a fierce recession. In crisp, gripping prose, Charles R. Morris shows how got into this mess. He explains the arcane financial instruments, the chicanery, the policy misjudgments, the dogmas, and the delusions that created the greatest credit bubble in world history. Paul Volcker slew the inflation dragon in the early 1980s, and set the stage for the high performance economy of the 1980s and 1990s. But Wall Street's prosperity soon tilted into gross excess. The astronomical leverage at major banks and their hedge fund and private equity clients led to massive disruption in global markets. A quarter century of free-market zealotry that extolled asset stripping, abusive lending, and hedge fund secrecy will go down in flames with it. Continued denial and concealment could cause the crisis to stretch out for years, but financial and government leaders are still downplaying the problem. The required restructuring will be at least as painful as the very difficult period of 1979-1983. The Two Trillion-Dollar Meltdown, updated to include the latest financial developments, is indispensable to understanding how the world economy has been put on the brink.

Published: PublicAffairs on Jan 1, 2008
ISBN: 9780786744985
List price: $13.95
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I still have two kids in college, so I'm always day-dreaming about going back to college and doing it all over again. I'd be a geographer. Or maybe I'd study languages. I might even become a field biologist so I could travel to exotic locations and get paid for it. I wouldn't become an economist.I say this because this is not the sort of book I normally read. I think there must have been 50 words on the first page I didn't understand. Different vocabulary, if you know what I mean. Still, I found this book fascinating. Morris claims to have seen this sub-prime mortgage load fiasco coming for well over a year. And it is his theory that highly leveraged shenanigans on the part of greedy investors and complacent governments will result in even more pain to come. At the very least, reading this book has made it possible for me to understand most of the newspaper articles and radio reports I encounter on National Public Radio. I don't have the foggiest idea how to get us out of this mess, but I'm glad to finally understand how we got into it.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is less than satisfactory. If you are looking for causes for the current "credit crunch" and economic crisis this book will give it to you, but if you are looking for REAL causes than find another book. This author manages to explain our economic problems, without addressing the root causes, such as the fraudulent Federal Reserve. It's all fluff and no content. If you want to read a book that is more than assessing damage, read Peter Schiff or anything by the Mises Institute.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A good primer for understanding the true causes and effects of the current sub-prime mortgage fiasco. This book, though not deep, makes up for it with being a solid overview. What makes it worth the time? It goes past the cause to the cause of the cause. It does a good job of explaining technical elements, although having Wikipedia handy will help as well. The diagnosis of how we got to where we are and where the road leads will help a layman better understand the daily news.However, his conclusion is weak. Like a doctor who can diagnose problems, but prescribes an aspirin for everything, Morris fails completely in giving credible advice on how to get out. It has a tacked on feeling.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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I still have two kids in college, so I'm always day-dreaming about going back to college and doing it all over again. I'd be a geographer. Or maybe I'd study languages. I might even become a field biologist so I could travel to exotic locations and get paid for it. I wouldn't become an economist.I say this because this is not the sort of book I normally read. I think there must have been 50 words on the first page I didn't understand. Different vocabulary, if you know what I mean. Still, I found this book fascinating. Morris claims to have seen this sub-prime mortgage load fiasco coming for well over a year. And it is his theory that highly leveraged shenanigans on the part of greedy investors and complacent governments will result in even more pain to come. At the very least, reading this book has made it possible for me to understand most of the newspaper articles and radio reports I encounter on National Public Radio. I don't have the foggiest idea how to get us out of this mess, but I'm glad to finally understand how we got into it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is less than satisfactory. If you are looking for causes for the current "credit crunch" and economic crisis this book will give it to you, but if you are looking for REAL causes than find another book. This author manages to explain our economic problems, without addressing the root causes, such as the fraudulent Federal Reserve. It's all fluff and no content. If you want to read a book that is more than assessing damage, read Peter Schiff or anything by the Mises Institute.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A good primer for understanding the true causes and effects of the current sub-prime mortgage fiasco. This book, though not deep, makes up for it with being a solid overview. What makes it worth the time? It goes past the cause to the cause of the cause. It does a good job of explaining technical elements, although having Wikipedia handy will help as well. The diagnosis of how we got to where we are and where the road leads will help a layman better understand the daily news.However, his conclusion is weak. Like a doctor who can diagnose problems, but prescribes an aspirin for everything, Morris fails completely in giving credible advice on how to get out. It has a tacked on feeling.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Disappointing -- a potted version of modern financial history. No unique sources or perspectives.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It is now December 2008 and I have just bought and started reading this book. I also just finished Ferguson's The Ascent of Money which covers much of the same ground for last year up until publication date in the spring. Both authors predicted what was going to happen, but not the drastic result. There will have to be a new edition or a sequel that will be like books about the tulip bubble and similar events of the past several hundred years.This from an Amazon review quoting the Economist. Right on target"However up to date it may seem, this book is no rush job. Morris deftly joins the dots between the Keynesian liberalism of the 1960s, the crippling stagflation of the 1970s and the free-market experimentation of the 1980s and 1990s, before entering the world of ultra-cheap money and financial innovation gone mad... [Morris's] provocative book is...a well-aimed opening shot in a debate that will only grow louder in coming months."—Economist, March 6, 2008
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Given my overly simplistic overview of global financial history (barter system, agrarian, industrial, Adam Smith, Reaganomics and here we are), I found this overview both informative and deeply, deeply disturbing. Best analogy I can think of: sadistic serial killers too squeamish at the sight of blood to do the job properly instead find their niche on Wall Street - time and time again you read of men without a shred of conscience devising means to deprive everyone else of their hard-earned life savings to make themselves rich and powerful - to the point where we've basically re-created the robber baron class of the Victorian era. If the elderly lose their life savings in the process, if they lose their ability to afford basics like food or medicine, so much the better. And when these guys' schemes collapse - as they inevitably do, time and time again - they simply start over and do it again, because in our society, no one is stopping them. Compare that to Pete Rose being banned from baseball for life - and you wonder: why aren't these guys banned from running investment funds for life, if they've sent millions of investors to the poor house without so much as blinking? But they never are. Example: John Meriweather (LCTM) after nearly precipitating a global meltdown in 2000 much like this one and having to be bailed out by the feds "was soon raising new money and is now the general partner of JWM investors, a $2.6 billion hedge fund". And that's just one example of too many to count.You realize, reading the history of one financial meltdown after another, that Congress is really hosting those "investigations" for show, and that's all. There is no intent to reform the process, because too many of them make too much money with things the way they are. And if the rest of us go down the tubes in the process, if we lose our savings and our jobs and our homes, so much the better.Well written and researched, but a really depressing book.
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