This time is different… really

I personally revel in plays on words, varying levels of seriousness based on voice inflections, double entendres and the allowing of multiple perspectives and points of view. By contrast, this drives my family and friends to frustration with replies like “Are you serious?!” or “Do you really mean that?”

There could be no rarer treasure chest of possible double meanings and the merging of mockery with seriousness than the business and finance books published since 2008. The topic touches so many aspects of our lives it’s difficult to categorize; let’s call it the housing/mortgage/insurance/investing/derivative/
banking/unemployment/pension crisis. See, you can have so much fun already! (If it weren’t so serious.)

Since there are so many approaches to the topic and, more importantly, different takes on who’s to blame, here’s a short list of some of the ‘best’ titles.

This time is different coverThis time is different: eight centuries of financial folly, by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff.
This book set the tone and standard by providing the best historical overview and taking us to where we are now. It is also the primary book that other ‘experts’ always refer to when they are debating the issue on radio or television.

13 bankers: the Wall Street takeover and the next financial meltdown, by Simon Johnson.
The greatest trade ever: the behind-the-scenes story of how John Paulson defied Wall Street and made financial history, by Gregory Zuckerman.
Profiles hedge-fund manager John (no relation to Henry below), who due to being an outsider in many ways within the tight-knit community saw the group think and herd mentality and acted on a once in a lifetime opportunity. A primer in thinking “outside the box,” if you will.

The big short book coverThe big short: inside the doomsday machine, by Michael Lewis.
Probably the most entertaining and personalized account.

On the brink: inside the race to stop the collapse of the global financial system, by Henry M. Paulson.
The insider-based account, with just a little bit of self-rationalization thrown in.

A colossal failure of common sense: the inside story of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, by Lawrence G. McDonald.

– Phil

p.s. Some of these titles appeared earlier in our Business and Finance newsletter. If you’d like to hear about the latest business books available at the Library, subscribe & receive it in your inbox monthly.

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