The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis

I chose this book as I had previously listened to and enjoyed Michael Lewis’s more recent Flash Boys (see #5 below). In The Big Short, Lewis charts the lead up to the financial crisis of 2007/2008 through the eyes of a few contrarian investors who predicted doom long before it happened. These characters are fairly compelling, and this character-driven narrative structure makes the book easy listening —  perfect for dipping in and out of and not feeling like you have to take notes.

Lewis also manages to make what is a willfully opaque area of finance —  involving credit default swaps, collateral loan obligations, and more — as accessible and understandable as can be hoped. In this respect the book is valuable in its attempt to make sense of a crisis that affected so many millions of people’s lives, but which it often feels like so few (if any) people understand. If you are looking for a very technical take on systemic risk or specific financial instruments involved in the crisis then this is not the right book for you. If you like non-fiction books that are written like stories, this is perfect.

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