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The End of Wall Street

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The End of Wall Street

Penguin Group (USA),

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

This fly-on-the-wall account of Wall Street’s crisis will keep you riveted, even though you already know how it ends.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


How did mortgage loans to not-quite-prime borrowers evolve into the engine of doom for Wall Street? Journalist and best-selling author Roger Lowenstein uncovers the root causes and the culmination of the 2008 financial debacle. He explains how loans to formerly unattractive clients brought out the best in Wall Street innovation and the worst in Wall Street greed. His behind-the-scenes look at the people involved, their backgrounds and their decision making is a fascinating depiction of how the mortgage ball got rolling. Lowenstein’s recounting of this now familiar story manages to excite like a novel, with pulse-pounding deadlines, superhero bureaucrats and evil villains (too many to count). He even opens his book with a lengthy “cast of characters.” getAbstract recommends his saga for its you-are-there view of what really happened on Wall Street – and, particularly, what really happened during one fateful weekend in September 2008.


Black September

What is the best way to explain the events of September 2008? The world’s financial markets spun out of control, banks failed, credit shut down, people lost their homes and governments shoveled billions at the problem. Many commentators see that month’s bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street institution, as the watershed moment of the crisis, but its causes date far back, as often is the case with momentous events in history.

That September, less than 20 years had elapsed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the world celebrated the triumph of capitalism and free markets. Rational financial leaders had trumpeted the self-regulating nature of markets and disdained the need for any legal limitations, regarding them as unnecessary and disruptive to the markets’ proper functioning. Bankers convinced themselves that their methods of determining risk and safeguarding against it augured a new financing paradigm: Taking on more debt, or overleveraging, was the way to go. Everyone, no matter his or her credit rating, could buy a home. Countrywide Financial would even advance the down payment as a “piggyback” loan on your mortgage.

The widely held...

About the Author

Roger Lowenstein has written four books about Wall Street, including two bestsellers: Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist and When Genius Failed. He writes for SmartMoney magazine, The New York Times Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

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