A Colossal Failure of Common Sense

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense

The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers

Book - 2009
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One of the biggest questions of the financial crisis has not been answered until now.  What happened at Lehman Brothers and why was it allowed to fail, with aftershocks that rocked the global economy? In this news-making, often astonishing book, a former Lehman Brothers Vice President gives us the straight answers--right from the belly of the beast.

In A Colossal Failure of Common Sense , Larry McDonald, a Wall Street insider, reveals, the culture and unspoken rules of the game like no book has ever done. The book is couched in the very human story of Larry McDonald's Horatio Alger-like rise from a Massachusetts "gateway to nowhere" housing project to the New York headquarters of Lehman Brothers, home of one of the world's toughest trading floors.
 
We get a close-up view of the participants in the Lehman collapse, especially those who saw it coming with a helpless, angry certainty. We meet the Brahmins at the top, whose reckless, pedal-to-the-floor addiction to growth finally demolished the nation's oldest investment bank. The Wall Street we encounter here is a ruthless place, where brilliance, arrogance, ambition, greed, capacity for relentless toil, and other human traits combine in a potent mix that sometimes fuels prosperity but occasionally destroys it.
 
The full significance of the dissolution of Lehman Brothers remains to be measured. But this much is certain: it was a devastating blow to America's--and the world's--financial system. And it need not have happened. This is the story of why it did.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Crown Business, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307588333
0307588335
Characteristics: xi, 351 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Robinson, Patrick 1939-

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bookdan2017
May 03, 2017

Amazing! The story behind the Signature event of the financial crisis.

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fdb045
Nov 10, 2016

Excellent read. Very well written for the layman despite describing the complicated finance world.
(I would include this book in the top 3 i have read on the subject - USA Financial Crisis Inquiry Report (don't be afraid); Stress Test by Timothy Geithner)

s
StarGladiator
Feb 23, 2014

So did the author forget to mention how Lehman Bros. created R3 Partners, a so-called hedge fund, to hide billions in debt? Forgot that, did he? Wonder what else he forgot to mention?

Grenoble17 Aug 27, 2012

Good look into the inner workings at Lehman that led to their collapse. The first few chapters are more autobiographical about the author's rise to Lehman. At Lehman, the author gives a good look into the warnings of the impending collapse of the housing market, the risks of subprime mortgages and high leverage, and the culture of envy and risk that permeated from the top of Lehman.

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Elizabethwv
Feb 25, 2012

Quite interesting. The book is easy to understand for the non-Wall Street person. Provides details of economic events happening globally that affected the demise of Lehman Brothers and how its demise affected people worldwide. Scarey events. Also amazing that the men at the top could be so greedy and so disconnected with reality. And that greed and disregard affected billions of people!

bonitakale May 29, 2011

Yes, a bit much on the autobiography, but wow--it was fascinating to see how someone could want something (a job in finance, no less!) that much. It was like getting inside the mind of a different species.

And his portraits of other people were so interesting, his respect for some of them so real. Held my interest like a novel.

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evandertogt
Dec 17, 2010

I found it interesting to understand something of what was going on on Wall Street in the years preceding 2008.
The book has an autobiographical character, following the author in his struggle to get a job at Wall Street, and then relating his own perspective (even bias) about the events at Lehman Brothers.

r
Russ_A
Sep 14, 2010

Perhaps this is better than it seemed at first, but I got real sick of the author talking about his prowess at golf and salesmanship. I was interested in the financial collapse and it wasn't getting there very fast, so I stopped after a few dozen pages. His "poor me" hardscrabble kid overcoming a rotten childhood but admiring the absent father (who was also a scratch golfer) schtick just stuck in my craw.

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