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After Lehman

Looking back at the financial crisis: A reading list

Marketplace Staff Sep 13, 2013

All week we’ve been taking a look back at the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the beginnings of the financial crisis around the world. We’ve got a timeline, several interviews with notable figures at the time and stories on how the crisis affected us and continues to affect us. Follow our coverage here.

But there’s still more to dissect and reflect on from the financial crisis. Here are the books on the financial crisis we’ve covered in the past. (Have any others? Tweet us @MarketplaceAPM)


Behind the scenes of the bank bailouts (Neil Barofsky) – June 23, 2012

The fall of 2008 was all about Henry Paulson’s bazooka, the Troubled Asset Relief Program — TARP — a $700 billion bailout for the banks. The bailout legislation created a special inspector general at the Treasury Department to oversee where all that money was going. Neil Barofsky performed the job until he resigned early in 2011. Now he’s out with a tell-all book of his experiences in Washington, including the time he was pretty sure Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was about to haul off and punch him. It’s called “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.”

A little alchemy to save the global economy (Neil Irwin) – April 9, 2013

The Federal Reserve released the minutes from their most recent meeting today. The executive summary goes something like this — no big policy changes coming, at least in the short term. And the Fed, more than any other institutions out there, is actually doing things to help the economy.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis) – December 16, 2010

A book about the financial crisis as told through the eyes of minor players, such as managers of three small hedge funds. Lewis reveals how these Wall Street bit players were among the first to see the subprime crisis coming.

After The Music Stopped (Alan S. Blinder) – January 24, 2013

A lot has been written about it, a lot of analysis has been done, and a lot of blame has been passed around for the financial crisis. But Alan Blinder — best known as an economist at Princeton but also a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve — says in his new book, “After the Music Stopped,” that the Fed hasn’t been given enough credit for its role in managing the crisis.

A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America’s Financial Disasters (Scott Reynolds Nelson) – September 10, 2012

America is a nation that was built largely on borrowing. And as it turns out we’re not so great at paying those debts off. Scott Reynolds Nelson argues in his new book, “A Nation of Deadbeats,” that our deadbeat nature has been the cause of many of the country’s economic crisis.

Not Working (DW Gibson) – August 23, 2012

People talk about losing a job and finding their way in today’s changing economy.

United House Burning (Simon Johnson and James Kwak) – April 10, 2012

Economist Simon Johnson’s been thinking about debt a lot and what we ought to do about it. He’s got a new book out with James Kwak. It’s called “White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You.”

Pinched: How the Great Recession has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It (Don Peck) – August 5, 2011

“The average duration of unemployment now is over nine months. And millions of people have been unemployed for a year or two years or more. And I think that what Gus’s story shows is not just the financial loss that results from unemployment, but the psychological loss. Happiness researchers have shown that being out of work for six months or more is really the worst thing that can happen to you psychologically. It’s the psychological equivalent of losing a spouse. So today in the U.S. we have millions of people who are in exactly that situation, and millions more with each year that goes by before we find recovery.”

Reckless Endangerment (Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner) – May 26, 2011

It’s not really a question of what happened to cause the financial crisis anymore. A housing crash, irresponsible lending and borrowing, egregious violations of common sense and sound financial practices. Another way to put it might be “reckless endangerment,” which as it happens is the title of New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson’s book on the crisis.

Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America (Greg Farrell)– December 15, 2010

A financial thriller about the downfall of an American icon — Merrill Lynch — and its sale to Bank of America based on sources from both firms.

How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (John Cassidy) – November 23, 2010

In his book How Markets Fail, John Cassidy dissects the efficient-market hypothesis, or the notion that the market is always right. Cassidy reviews the history of economic thought from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ to John Maynard Keynes, and uses psychology and behavioralism to show that the market really is not all that rational. Cassidy argues that Wall Street and financial regulators need to re-think this view in order to prevent future economic calamities like the one we’ve experienced these last few years.

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis (Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera) – November 16, 2010

When the financial crisis reached its zenith in the fall of 2008, everyone was looking for someone to blame. We still are. In “All the Devils Are Here,” Bethany McLean, author of the “Smartest Guys in the Room” about the Enron scandal, and New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, go back to beginnings of the crisis to uncover whodunit. They argue that it wasn’t just a couple of greedy financial guys who created the problem. As the title suggests, it was all the devils, from Wall Street to Washington, who played a part.

The End of Wall Street (Roger Lowenstein) – April 15, 2010

On the roots of the financial crisis, and where we go from here.

Too Big to Fail (Andrew Ross Sorkin) – November 3, 2009

There are still many questions about the government’s response to the collapse of the financial system. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin examines those questions in his book, “Too Big to Fail.”

The Foreclosure of America (Adam Michaelson) – January 6, 2009

Countrywide Financial is arguably the company at the heart of the mortgage financial crisis. Countrywide’s former Senior Vice President of Marketing Adam Michaelson on his experiences at the company.


‘On the Floor’ with a former investment banker (Aifric Campbell) – July 11, 2013

Why set a novel about love and money and women in the work force on a trading floor? “To me, it was an obvious environment to tell a story,” says Aifric Campbell, author of “On the Floor,” her second novel.

Capital (John Lanchester) – June 24, 2012

Author John Lanchester’s novel explores the lives of a group of people living in London on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. He discusses themes from the book: the London property bubble and capital’s role in our lives.

Sunset Park (Paul Auster) – November 8, 2010

“Sunset Park” follows four people during the winter of 2008, just following the height of that crisis. It begins the way the whole crisis started: with homes.

IOU (John Lanchester) – February 4, 2010

Fiction writer John Lanchester talks about the true-life story of what has happened to the global banking system over the past few years.

Payback (Margaret Atwood) – December 27, 2008

A look at why we owe and who we pay.

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