Books Of The Collapse


As with any major event – like the war in Iraq or the death of Anna Nicole Smith – the economic crisis has brought numerous books telling us what went wrong and how. 

Here is a collection:


Bailout by John Waggoner

Published: Sept. 9, 2008

Waggoner, a USA Today investment columnist and personal financial reporter, penned Bailout: What the Rescue of Bear Stearns and the Credit Crisis Mean for Your Investments. The book is more investment advice than analysis, as it discusses strategies designed to protect portfolios and talks about the potential to solidify one's financial standing with treasury bonds, gold and, yes, even real estate.

Panic by Michael Lewis

Published: Nov. 17, 2008

Amazon Ranking: #16 (Economic History)

Critic-darling Michael Lewis edited Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity , an anthology of financial journalism beginning with the crash of 1987. It is both humorous and painful to read what people were thinking in the build up to the current crisis and previous ones. The New York Times noted that Lewis begins each story 'with an excerpt illustrating unreasonable optimism, then others that capture the first hints of mounting worry. Then he moves to the full-throttle panic phase, and he cools down with assessments of how these crises have changed investor attitude and fiscal policy.' The book includes a glossary of economic terms for business neophytes and is, simply, a must read.

The Battle For Wall Street by Richard Goldberg

Published: Jan. 23, 2009

A blurb on the inside flap of The Battle for Wall Street: Behind the Lines in the Struggle that Pushed an Industry Into Turmoil is ominous: 'A conflict of epic financial proportions has begun on Wall Street and will continue to rage on in the coming years. The opposing forces are the sellers: an army of commercial and investment bankers; and the buyers: an army of hedge fund managers and private equity groups. It is a battle about power--and about winning the hearts, minds, and wallets of the investment community.'

Wall Street veteran Goldberg promises to walk you through the war - and explain how to profit from it.

House of Cards by William D. Cohan

Published: March 10, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #2 (Corporate Finance)

Cohan's House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street was one of the first out of the box chronicling the collapse of Bear. A former investment banker, Cohan, The New York Times said, provides a 'chilling, almost minute-by-minute account of the 10, vertigo-inducing days that...revealed Bear Stearns to be a flimsy house of cards in a perfect storm.'

The Housing Boom And Bust by Thomas Sowell

Published: Apr. 24, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #1 (Economic Conditions)

Hoover Instutition scholar in residence Sowell writes The Housing Boom and Bust in straightforward language about all aspects of the housing boom and collapse, focusing on questionable lending practices and Washington's attempt to solve the problem of the lack of affordable housing - a problem Sowell believes did not exist.

Fool's Gold by Gillian Tett

Published: May 12, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #1 (Finance)

Long titles are all the rage with books on the collapse, but Tett's Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe may be the longest. Tett covers the global market for the Financial Times and walks through the J.P. Morgan bankers' creation and combination of derivatives and securitization. She also talks about how the bank's rivals, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman, used the derivates in a much riskier way than J.P. Morgan did, leading to their demise. According to Tett, some of the J.P. Morgan bankers have expressed little regret for the monster they helped create.

Street Fighters by Kate Kelly

Published: May 12, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #2 (Banks & Banking)

The Wall Street Journal's Kate Kelly covered the Bear Stearns collapse and followed it up with the release of her book in Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street . Like the title says, it focuses on the behind the scenes panic and negotiation of the last 3 days of the 85-year-old investment bank in, said The New York Times, a 'takes a you-are-there, just-the-facts' way.

Bear Trap by Bill Bamber and Andrew Spencer

Published: May 17, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #51 (Banks & Banking - Kindle)

Bear Trap: The Fall of Bear Stearns and the Panic of 2008 was originally listed as authored by journalist Spencer and 'Anonymous' before it was revealed that Bamber, a former Bear executive, is the co-author. The book, therefore, provides an insider's view of Bear's collapse. Bamber tells 'what he lived through' and, in his own eloquent words, 'You just can't make this shit up.'

Bailout Nation by Barry Ritholtz

The Myth Of The Rational Market by Justin Fox

Published: June 9, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #1 (Theory - Kindle)

Fox, the economics and business columnist for Time, analyses the hypothesis and history of the Efficient Markets theory in The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street.

The Financial Times said that Fox is 'scathing' in his criticism of Eugene Fama, the godfather of the theory, in this 'impressively broad and richly researched' book.

And Then The Roof Caved In by David Faber

Published: June 22, 2009

Amazon Ranking: #2 (Investments)

Based largely on reporting Faber did for the CNBC documentary House of Cards, And Then the Roof Caved In: How Wall Street's Greed and Stupidity Brought Capitalism to Its Knees looks at the various causes of the financial crisis and includes interviews with insiders at investment banks and ratings agencies, as well as homeowners who were wrapped up in the mortgage-backed securities mess. Faber, his publisher promies, 'lays bare the truth of the credit crisis, whose defining emotion at every turn has been greed, and whose defining failure is the complicity of the U.S. government in letting that greed rule the day.'

Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Expected Publication: Sept. 22, 2009

The New York Times scibe Sorkin's book - Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the FinancialSystem from Crisis---and Lost - will not be released until September 22. You've probably noticed Sorkin's DealBook column has been MIA; he even skipped Sun Valley this year to work on the book.

The Sellout by Charles Gasparino

Expected Publication: Nov. 23, 2009

The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street's Greed and Stupidity Destroyed America's Dominance of the Global Financial System is not out until November and was planned to provide yet another take on the collapse of Bear Stears. But the expansive tagline - How Wall Street Greed and Stupidity Destroyed America's Dominance Of The Global Financial System - makes it sound like CNBC's oversized personality will be expounding on much bigger topics.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.