26 January 2009

Panic - the story of modern financial insanity

I just read a fascinating book titled 'Panic - the story of modern financial insanity' compiled by Michael Lewis. He has compiled over 50 pieces including some of his own articles. It looks at four different crises a) the 1987 market crash b) the Asian financial crisis and LTCM collapse c) the bursting of the internet bubble d) the current credit and financial crisis. The format is interesting, it covers articles from different periods before and after the crisis struck and gives the varying perspectives of leading people.

The 1987 crash story was very interesting from my perspective, because I followed it and wrote about it in 1997 with my Partner, Brandon Becker (at the law firm I worked for in Washington D.C.), who is mentioned in the book. He was one of the chief authors of the report by the SEC (where he headed the market regulations division, before joining the law firm) which attempted to analyse why the 1987crash happened, why in one day stock prices fell by over 22% without any apparent economic cause or major shift in perception. We wrote the piece in 1997, trying to figure the learnings over the decade from the 1987 crash, which continues to evade a single or even multiple straightforward explanations even after such a long period after the event. Here is the piece "Looking Backward - Looking Forward".

Highly recommended - though not yet available in India - thanks to a friend who had it specially shipped to me from the world of Amazonia.

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