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The Big Short

Inside the Doomsday Machine
Feb 08, 2020dixithanoop rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
I had seen the movie. Then I read this book, and then rewatched the movie again, and understood and appreciated the movie a thousand times better. That's how you know the book was so incredible. Michael Lewis's The Big Short is the most gripping non-fiction story I've read this year. If you're even slightly investment/finance oriented, this book is a must-read. Initially, I was a little confused when I started reading the book, as many of the names used in the movie have been changes. Steve Eisman, in the book is Mark Baum in the movie, Cornwall Capital becomes Brownfield Capital, Greg Lippman is renamed Jared Vennett. While it's true that the movie sort of includes many scenes that are not really accurate to the real events, I'd discount those under artistic liberty, given the core of the movie has been true to the crux of the book. Funnily, the Leo Tolstoy quote in the beginning of the book is awfully close in meaning to the Mark Tain quote in the beginning of the movie! Coming to the book itself specifically, it's amazingly well written. It's raw, sassy, truthful, dauntless, and most importantly, defiant on every page. I liked the fact that the book delves deeper into many of the character's personal lives (deeper than the movie) and that gives you an idea about the atypical personalities of many of its characters like Danny, Steve Eisman, Dr.Burry etc. The book also includes some details that look incidental and so have been dropped from the movie, but the reader can't help but appreciate the drollery of the situation. For e.g, when Steve Eisman walks out of the auditorium after asking tough questions to the OptionOne guy in a non-Q&A speech, it's revealed that the caller was his wife, and that she told later the call was not important from any angle! From the perspective of financial technicality, the book is decently detailed. I understood the concepts of Collateral Debt Obligation, Synthetic CDO, the Mortgage Backed Security, Credit Default Swaps, the ISDA etc much better than I was able to from the movie, but that should be very obvious. I did find a rather impactful errata on page 137, where "ensure" and "insure" have been mixed up ini the last line! And another sentence on page 167 which is probably grammatically incomplete - "The same Household Finance that had pushed Steve Eisman over the narrow border between Wall Street skeptic and Wall Street cynic". Finally, I was also intrigued by the fact that Wall Street has now been trading Bespoke Tranche Opportunity which in itself looks so confusing that one wouldn't be surprised if it's hiding many dark facts underneath. A good research online about the same only sent me to a deeper rathole - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bespoke_portfolio_(CDO) In conclusion, I'd love to read this book again, and watch the movie again, just to ruminate on the idea that some of the smartest people on the planet are so well equipped to completely screw up a healthy economy!