REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
THE END OF WALL STREET
“The End of Wall Street is a calm, reasoned, and often witty tour of the current financial landscape and how it got that way.”—Philadelphia Observer
“...there has been a steady stream of books trying to make sense of the crisis. The latest, and perhaps the most accessible and even-handed, is Roger Lowenstein's The End of Wall Street."—Washington Post
Roger Lowenstein…is a connoisseur of investing intelligence and folly. In constructing a precise, condensed version of the origins, climax and fallout of the "dark and powerful storm front that had long been gathering at Wall Street's shores," he finds much more folly than intelligence…Careful and meticulous, The End of Wall Street covers a lot of well-trodden ground. Still, there's plenty of telling detail.
—Daniel Gross, The New York Times Book Review
The End of Wall Street offers one expert reporter's domino theory about Wall Street's collapse. It is a complex but imaginative book, an especially useful piece of the jigsaw puzzle that current Wall Street books are busy creating…not a story of blowhard personalities, even if it is filled with C.E.O.'s and financial regulators who arguably control the future of global finance. Instead it is a coherently issue-oriented book that frames each stage of the crisis in terms of the real world's ability to confound theorists, number-crunching quants, economic historians and other putative experts, many of whom have seen their most cherished ideas destroyed by the events of the last few years.
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times Book Review
Lowenstein (When Genius Failed) offers an overview of the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that rises above the glut of similarly themed books with its juicy behind-the-scenes detail and thoughtful analysis. He sets out to prove that the current financial difficulties began long before the summer of 2008, and long before the failure of Lehman Brothers. He begins with the history of Fannie Mae and the rise of mortgage-based securities and a dangerously burgeoning housing bubble, and hits the high points of the 2008-2009 news cycles, including Washington Mutual’s unwise loan strategies, the panic following Bear Stearns’s near-demise, a rash of foreclosures, TARP, and the woes of Citigroup. The insider knowledge lends flavor and context to many of these stories—a ranting Jim Cramer, Ben Bernanke’s loss of confidence, and Alan Greenspan’s astonishing 2008 testimony to Congress. Lowenstein’s strong knowledge of the source material and flair for the dramatic—and doomsday title—should draw readers who still wonder what went wrong and how.
A veteran financial/business journalist examines the past three years of economic collapse, chronicling actions and inactions from dozens of villains and a few heroes. New York Times Magazine and Bloomberg contributor Lowenstein (While America Aged: How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors, Stopped the NYC Subways, Bankrupted San Diego, and Loom as the Next Financial Crisis, 2008, etc.) teases out the upsetting saga of ignorance and greed without adding much to the story already related in newspapers, magazines and broadcast outlets, not to mention a few books that beat his to bookstores. Nonetheless, he handles the recap skillfully, in language nonspecialists can understand. The author identifies more than 100 key players, almost all of them middle-aged white males from Wall Street, private mortgage companies, law firms, federal government agencies and the U.S. Congress. The narrative consistently demonstrates how almost all of those who could have halted the coming recession by employing common sense instead decided that the housing market would never collapse. When it did, nearly all of the smart guys in the room expressed shock, even though some of them had worried privately about a looming disaster. Among the most loathsome of the destroyers in Lowenstein's case are Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of Countrywide Financial, which wrote billions of dollars of home loans bound to default; and Joseph Cassano, an executive of insurance behemoth AIG who overexposed the company and its clients to the risks of credit-default swap losses. The leading heroes, chosen from a slim field, are Brooksley Born, chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who tried to discuss governmentregulation of derivatives a decade before the debacle; and Robert L. Rodriguez, chief executive of First Pacific Advisors, who protected his investors from the insane greed while trying to warn anybody who would listen about the house of cards about to collapse. A well-delineated chronicle likely to cause readers to ask who put the clowns in charge of the circus, and why aren't they confined to prison cells. Agent: Melanie Jackson/Melanie Jackson Agency