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All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Well-Written and Ambitious Book

    "All the Devils are Here" is a very ambitious book that attempts to weave together a wide range of narratives into a single story that explains the financial crisis. In general, I think the book does a very good job of taking on this challenge, but there is no way to get around the fact that it is a complex undertaking. The book takes a full 8 pages just to list the "cast of characters."

    The story begins with the invention of mortgage-backed securities in the late 1970s and traces the founding and evolution of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. We learn about innovations in risk management and derivatives at JP Morgan and how they created the first credit default swaps and then later lured AIG into the game. Also covered are greed and mortgage fraud at Ameriquest and the failure of the ratings agencies to do anything close to an adequate job. There is also a lot of material on internal politics at Wall Street firms and especially how the risk management process at Merrill Lynch was undermined. Much of the story has been written about extensively elsewhere, for example how the Greenspan/Rubin/Summers trio pushed back against regulation of derivatives.

    While "All the Devils are Here" offers one of the broadest takes on the financial crisis, I think it still fails to address one of the "devils" -- or perhaps even the elephant in the room. The book focuses entirely on the financial sector and misses the larger, structural shift that has occurred in the overall U.S. economy. That shift has been driven primarily by globalization and technology and the result has been stagnant incomes for the vast majority of people while a tiny few have seen their incomes explode. That left the middle class with little choice except to borrow in order to maintain their lifestyles. I think it is important to understand this broader trend toward income concentration because it shows no sign of abating and may well lead to another crisis. For more on this issue and the danger we may face in the future, I would also suggest reading this book:

    "The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future"

    Read "All the Devils are Here" for a good overview of the major players in the crisis and how they interconnect. However, it's important to keep in mind that the real causes of the crisis cannot be divorced from the long term changes that are occurring in the economy as a whole.

    20 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Very Good Read

    This book explains particular components of the financial collapse in great detail and digestible terms. I think if you read this book in combination with two or three others such as , Too Big to Fail, 13 Bankers, and On the Brink, you will have a better appreciation for this book. You will also have a good understanding of how severe this collapse really is.
    I worked in the business and I have read many of the books on the financial collapse, this is a must read!

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    In depth

    A really informative book on the whole financial crisis that culminated in 2008.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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