…thoughtful, funny and unpretentious…the view from a man clinging to a palm tree in a hurricane…These interviews…began in 2007, when the subprime mortgage disaster become impossible to ignore, and continued through last year. They're an urbane if frazzled chronicle of shock and despair.
The New York Times
Expanding on a 2007 interview in the literary magazine n+1, editor and interviewer Gessen draws together two years' worth of interviews with a despairing anonymous hedge fund manager. HFM, as Gessen calls him, didn't go to business school or major in economics, but has been working successfully in hedge funds for over a decade. With some context provided by Gessen, HFM schools readers in the stories behind the death of Bear Stearns, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the plunging dollar, the bailouts, the Madoff scandal, and, finally, the upswing. Though it's interesting to have a personal take on the tumultuous past two years—and HFM ends the interviews when the stress finally drives him to take a semisabbatical—the decision to tell this story in an interview format is tricky and ultimately unsuccessful; the choppy transcription format distances readers from the ideas at hand, and the points lose their punch. Fans of the original article will find this expansion compelling, but other readers curious about the factors behind the crash will do better elsewhere. (July)
"A short, illuminating set of interviews with one savvy, articulate Wall Streeter. . . . A penetrating, educational and at times harrowing play-by-play."
Diary of a Very Bad Year takes the first steps toward putting a human face on the funds.
A great read. . . . HFM offers a brilliant financial professional’s view of the economic situation in real time, from September 2007, when problems in financial markets began to surface, until late summer 2009.
HFM does a good job of teaching the reader how mortgage-backed paper, money-market funds, and credit-default swaps work, while offering up juicier tidbits about the ethics and legalities of his sector.
A highly readable refresher on the financial crisis. . . . Amazinglyand largely because of the anonymity he’s grantedthe nameless hedgie gives straight answers. . . . While HFM comes off as a bro you don’t want to mess with, the book is packed with plenty of humor.
Eminently readable. . . . Always engaging. . . . Although it is not fiction, Diary of a Very Bad Year is, in its own way, an attempt to bridge the gulf between the literary and financial worlds.
Diary of a Very Bad Year does something few of the books written about the crisis have accomplished: It delivers an insider perspective on the events in real time, rather than dwelling on conclusions reached after the fact.
A short, illuminating set of interviews with one savvy, articulate Wall Streeter. . . . A penetrating, educational and at times harrowing play-by-play.
Diary of a Very Bad Year is a rarity: a book on modern finance that’s both extraordinarily thoughtful and enormously entertaining.
n+1 (in the person of Keith Gessen) lends an outsider’s ear to the brilliant disquisitions of a guy caught in the middle of it all. . . . Excellent reading. . . . Compelling.
My favorite book written about the financial crisis. . . . Highly recommended.
A wonderful book. Diary of a Very Bad Year is a fascinating commentary on the crisis and a great read.