Man of the Meltdown: How John Paulson Made a Killing on the Housing Crash

Man of the Meltdown
How hedge fund manager John Paulson made billions in the crisis
By Spencer E. Ante

Editor’s Rating:
The Good: A fascinating account of how John Paulson profited big time from the housing meltdown.

The Bad: A times the narrative seems a tad scattered and gossipy.

The Bottom Line: A dramatic and plausible account of one man’s triumph.

The Greatest Trade Ever
By Gregory Zuckerman
Broadway; 293 pp.; $26

The Great Recession of 2009 destroyed trillions in wealth. But a few lucky or shrewd souls profited from this catastrophe. Perhaps the single largest beneficiary was John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who engineered the greatest trade in history, earning his firm $20 billion by betting against the housing market. In 2007, Paulson took home a staggering $4 billion for himself, the largest one-year payout in the annals of finance. That’s more than $10 million a day, if you’re counting.

How Paulson and a handful of contrarian investors pulled off this once-in-a-lifetime coup is the subject of The Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman, a senior writer at the The Wall Street Journal. Paulson has released a statement calling the book a disappointment filled with inaccuracies, which he didn’t specify. But The Greatest Trade Ever comes off as a fascinating and believable counter-narrative to the growing pile of books recounting the disastrous mistakes made by many of the supposedly smartest minds on Wall Street. It is also a surprisingly dramatic work—although not always in an enjoyable way. It is the drama of waiting to see the horrific destruction scene in an apocalyptic movie.

Read the rest of my book review here.

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