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[ [ [ The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History[ THE GREATEST TRADE EVER: THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORY OF HOW JOHN PAULSON DEFIED WALL STREET AND MADE FINANCIAL HISTORY ] By Zuckerman, Gregory ( Author )Dec-07-2010 Paperback (Anglais) Broché – 7 décembre 2010

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In 2006, hedge fund manager John Paulson realized something few others suspected--that the housing market and the value of subprime mortgages were grossly inflated and headed for a major fall. Paulson's background was in mergers and acquisitions, however, and he knew little about real estate or how to wager against housing. He had spent a career as an also-ran on Wall Street. But Paulson was convinced this was his chance to make his mark. He just wasn't sure how to do it. Colleagues at investment banks scoffed at him and investors dismissed him. Even pros skeptical about housing shied away from the complicated derivative investments that Paulson was just learning about. But Paulson and a handful of renegade investors such as Jeffrey Greene and Michael Burry began to bet heavily against risky mortgages and precarious financial companies. Timing is everything, though. Initially, Paulson and the others lost tens of millions of dollars as real estate and stocks continued to soar. Rather than back down, however, Paulson redoubled his bets, putting his hedge fund and his reputation on the line. In the summer of 2007, the markets began to implode, bringing Paulson early profits, but also sparking efforts to rescue real estate and derail him. By year's end, though, John Paulson had pulled off the greatest trade in financial history, earning more than $15 billion for his firm--a figure that dwarfed George Soros's billion-dollar currency trade in 1992. Paulson made billions more in 2008 by transforming his gutsy move. Some of the underdog investors who attempted the daring trade also reaped fortunes. But others who got the timing wrong met devastating failure, discovering that being early and right wasn't nearly enough. Written by the prizewinning reporter who broke the story in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Greatest Trade Ever "is a superbly written, fast-paced, behind-the-scenes narrative of how a contrarian foresaw an escalating financial crisis--that outwitted Chuck P

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  • Editeur : Crown Business (7 décembre 2010)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004VO98NG
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Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Ce livre est un bon complement du cultissime "The Big Short" de Michael Lewis. Ces deux livres permettent de gagner une très bonne vision de la crise même si celui-ci est beaucoup plus orienté du côté de Paulson&Co et passe sur certains mécanismes techniques. Je ne conseille pas le livre à des personnes qui n'ont pas déjà une bonne connaissance des outils et techniques en causes lors de la crise de 2008.
Au delà de cela, le livre est très bien écrit et facile à lire.
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Par Achraf T. le 25 juillet 2013
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Quand j'ai commencé ce livre je ne savais pas très bien à quoi m'attendre. Après quelque lecture je n'ai pas laché l'affaire tellement l'histoire est fascinante. Mais ce que j'ai adoré le plus c'est quand j'ai mis à jour mes informations sur le manager du hedge fund j'ai appris qu'il a beaucoup perdu après son coup du siècle qaprès avoir misé sur l'or. Ceci confirme ce que Nassim Nicholas Taleb a déjà mentionné à propos du marché, C'est du hasard et de la chance.
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147 internautes sur 160 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fantastic Read! 25 novembre 2009
Par Kindle Addict - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is an incredible book about John Paulson, and in general, the trade against the housing market. This is a great read for anyone who is interested in how an investment thesis is constructed and executed.

There were two pleasant surprises of the book:

1. Cast of Characters - How different investors, besides John Paulson, also saw the similar trade opportunity and went for it. As the crisis unfolded John Paulson, George Soros and a host of other investors were revealed to have been shorting the housing market. The surprise was learning about the host of other, "unknown" investors from a medical school dropout to a cocky Deutsche Bank trader to wealthy real-estate mogul to a recently graduated MBA, each of whom recognized the crisis before most others and were able to trade against the rest of the investment community.

2. The transformation of John Paulson - He was initially described someone who was smart, but not as someone who always "had to be the best" or a natural leader; in other words he was not the classic alpha male. John Paulson was portrayed as a random i-banker with awkward communication skills, a weak handshake and an affinity for the NYC club scene. Many actually saw his career as stalled and unexceptional. The book is very good at showing how he transformed himself from a run of the mill finance professional to someone whose ambition grew and grew....and once he saw the opportunity he calmly executed his trade and transformed his life.

(A small side note...this is also the one of the best books describing the technical terms of the housing crisis (e.g. CDS, MBS).)

Finally, even though the ending is essentially known (the collapse of the housing market), the description and narrative of the sequence of events is riveting.

A great read for anyone interested in finance, the markets, and the real estate crash.
42 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Greatest Tome On the Subprime Anti-Heroes 2 juin 2010
Par Paige Turner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
"Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally." - John Maynard Keynes.

If "The Big Short" theme was that Wall Street bond traders were corrupt and stupid and it was inevitable that they would blow up, "Greatest Trade Ever" covers the same ground but instead argues that it is nearly impossible to profit from a wildly out of consensus trade. Lewis opens his book with a quote by Tolstoy, which emphasizes that the experts could not be convinced because they know too much. Zuckerman instead opens with the Keynes quote above which explains why there are so few independent thinkers on Wall Street. The amazing thing about the subprime debacle was not that a few smart contrarians figured it out, but rather that so few did, and perhaps most amazing of all, the pain they endured during the process. (Although their massive, deserved riches may be a salve for those wounds).

The Greatest Trade Ever is mis-named. It is not really a story about a trade, but about the fascinating few people that were able to make this trade. Zuckerman, in vivid detail, helps us to understand what drove these men to bet everything they had against the rest of the world. The book succeeds on several levels. It explains the actual mechanics of how traders spotted and profited from the subprime meltdown. On a very subtle level, it gives serious investors some amazing insights in successful investing, but it is no "how-to" book. Most important, it tells the stories of these fascinating people who rode the wave.

The author compares these contrarian investors to people who climb K2 or surf Pipeline in Hawaii. In the investing world, there is no more treacherous challenge than betting against a mania. History is full of legendary investors who rode financial waves to their ruin, putting on gutsy financial trades against the crowd, only to suffer humiliating losses that sometimes haunted them for years.

The author gives many examples of investors that bet against the herd and failed:
Sir Isaac Newton went broke in shares of the South Sea Company, and said, "I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people." Legendary Value Investor Ben Graham lost 2/3 of his investments' value during the crash of 1929. Famed trader Jesse Livermore anticipated the 1929 crash and scored $100 million in profits by shorting shares. However, by 1934, he was bankrupt and six years later shot himself in the bar of the Sherry-Netherland hotel.

Hedge-fund maven Michael Steinhardt, who made millions betting against overpriced stocks in the 1960s, bet against the market in the early 1990s, losing most of his clients. His bonds eventually rallied and he made $600 million for his fund. He said: "Betting against a bubble is dangerous, but it's one of the most rewarding things, it's truly a pleasure. In your mind you're going to be right ultimately; there's a certain virtue in being alone" he said afterward.

A mania even beat the legendary Soros, who lost 20% in a few months on dot-com stocks. He said "the understanding of a bubble doesn't help you as an investor. Those that reach historic proportions go further than you would think." Even Peter Schiff who correctly predicted housing would stumble didn't make money because he played it wrong - underscoring the fact that an awareness of an investment bubble is only valuable when you know how to profit from it.

The subprime bubble was very hard to short. Even Bill Gross bought a little CDS protection in 2006, which led to his fund trailing the rest of the pack. This made him so miserable that he had to take an unplanned 9-day vacation midway through the year, sitting around the house, sulking to his wife. "I couldn't turn on business television, I couldn't pick up the paper; it was just devastating. I couldn't sleep at night," he said. And this is the so-called King of Bonds, a billionaire bond investor.

What was the "Greatest Trade Ever?"
The greatest trade ever was shorting subprime using CDS contracts on mortgage bonds. They were essentially insurance contracts on other bonds. If the bonds defaulted, you were paid. If not, you had to keep paying for the insurance, year after year.

The cost was cheap relative to the upside, at only 1-2% of principal per year. But that money went out the door constantly. The amazing beauty of the trade was the way Paulson played it. He had the nerve to have $300 million a year going out the door, effectively a $14 billion bet against the rest of the world. There was a kind of divine sickness to this trade. What kind of person can do this, and do it with such overwhelming passion and greed?

As if that first coup wasn't enough, when the CDS started paying off, Paulson made massive short bets against Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the mortgage insurers, and even the Wall Street banks. It was the greatest trade ever followed by the second greatest ever, all in the space of 3 years. Meanwhile the rest of the world was against him - all of Wall Street, the Fed, and finally the US government.

Wall Street always ultimately rips off clients in one way or another, treating them like rubes that they usually are. This just further shows the genius and sheer willpower of this trade. The client never comes out ahead when betting against Wall Street. They change the rules, make pricing opaque, take the skim, or do something to soak the clients. Yet in this amazing trade, a medium sized hedge fund with a lackluster record bet big against the crooked house playing with loaded dice and won anyway. The elegance, magnitude, sheer beauty of this coup is hard to overestimate. Even with the government taking billions from taxpayers to feather the nests of Wall Street, they were still insolvent. They were wrong, Paulson was right, and he won.

The author interweaves the stories of the people that put on this trade, but he focuses most of his time on John Paulson.

John Paulson.
Paulson was out to earn money, even as a young kid. He used to buy packs of candy, break them up and sell the pieces individually at school for 5 cents each. Buffett did this with gum.

An expert showed Paulson early in his career that adjusted for inflation, annual gains for housing were only 1.5%.

Paulson had a hard time getting his fund started. "A salesman's job starts when the customer says no," he was told. He reached out to everyone he knew, even mailing more than 500 mailers about his fund's launch. He didn't get a single response, even after waiving the $1 million minimum investment. Even bankers at Bear Stearns that he had worked with said no. A few didn't even return his calls. Others set up meetings, only to cancel them. Even his old mentor wouldn't invest. He had no luck with his successful business school peers either.

"I had lots of contacts and I thought money would pour in. Some people said they would give me money, but only if they got a piece of my business. It was humbling," he said.

Instead, Paulson started his firm with $2 million of his own money. It took a full year to find his first client, an old friend from Bear Stearns, who gave him $500,000. The firm was just him and an assistant in a tiny office in a Park Avenue building owned by Bear Stearns and shared with other small hedge-fund clients.

At times, Paulson became discouraged, because despite good (but uneven) investment performance, he still had few clients. He clung to a quote by Winston Churchill: "Never give up. Never give up."

By late 1996, he still had only $16 million of assets, tiny in the hedge fund world. By the end of 1997, he had about $100 million. He lost 4% in 1998, and lost about half of his client assets, down to about $50 million by year-end.

As his performance got better, investors discovered his firm. Assets surged to $3 billion in 2004. Meanwhile, Paulson turned more conservative, with plain suits, less profanity, eating healthier, gaining control over his emotions and temper.

Despite his growing success, Paulson was not initially able to raise money for a new fund to short subprime. Zuckerman writes: "John Paulson's perspective was so vastly different from that of most others on Wall Street that it was as if he had landed from a different planet." Paulson complained: "I don't know why they don't get it... this is the trade of a lifetime. They concluded that I was an inexperienced manager. I had to play dumb. But I got tired of people saying I was stupid or wrong."

Paulson's wife even felt the strain, asking him if he was having second thoughts. "It's just a matter of waiting" he reassured her.

The trade didn't work for months, even after subprime started collapsing, because the firms would not mark the CDS properly. They were protecting their own books. Finally, it started working and working big! His credit fund climbed 66% in one month. Investors were incredulous and some thought it was a misprint, that it should have been 6.6%.

At one point, during a meeting with two executives that wanted to buy a piece of Paulson & Company, Paulson was fidgety, like he was waiting for news. An hour into the meeting his trader Rosenberg knocked on the door, interrupting the group. He leaned into Paulson's ear, whispering something. Then Paulson immediately rose, apologized and stepped out of the meeting. Ten minutes later, he returned, upbeat. He finally blurted out what was on his mind: "We just got our marks for the day. We made a billion dollars today."

Paulson kept the trade on, because he knew it could go much further, despite almost doubling the money in the early part of the year. (Good lesson - if the trade is correct, don't bail out too early.) Was his success enough to gain investors' confidence in his strategy? No! A typical investor call was "If I could withdraw from your fund, I would. You're crazy; you should realize your gains."

Paulson's funds gained $15 billion for investors in 2007. His credit funds had gains of 590% and 350%! He earned nearly $4 billion himself in that year, the largest one-year payout in the history of the financial markets.

By late November 2008, Paulson had grown to manage a shocking $28 billion, making it one of the largest hedge funds on the planet. Even in that disastrous year, in which the S&P dropped 38%, he scored impressive gains of 30% for his funds. Paulson kept a low profile and still took a bus home on rainy days when he couldn't get a cab.

In many ways, Paulson to this day hasn't changed; it's as if the trade never took place. He still arrives at his Manhattan office early, wearing a dark suit and a tie, and leaving around 6 p.m. for his short cab ride home. "I only need transportation to go to work in the morning and when I come home. It would be kind of a waste with nothing to do in between, as I rarely leave the office during the day," Paulson says, explaining why he doesn't have a car and driver.

Paolo Pellegrini.
Paolo Pellegrini was Paulson's analyst that did much of the analytical work on the short trade. He was co-manager of the credit funds. In his 40s when he started with Paulson, he was a middling performer on Wall Street until the "greatest trade ever." "I was 45 and had zero net worth," he recalls.
"Sometimes it's more fascinating for me to do everything on my own and recreate the wheel," he acknowledges. (Investing lesson - sometimes you can learn by going through the process) Paulson paid his about $175 million for his work in 2007. (Great pay, but pales in comparison to Paulson's $4 billion score in the same year)

Rich Greene's Story.
Rich Greene was a friend of Paulson, a big real estate investor, playing a "game of sexual catch-and-release with an assortment of willing women, including Russian models new to LA." He ultimately became the individual investor that made more money on a trade than any retail investor in history. The funny part is that Merrill Lynch would not let him do the trade, because they were afraid of being sued since they thought it was wrong. They relented only after he signed a form saying his trade was "unsolicited" with signatures of more than a dozen Merrill executives. (Meanwhile they were blowing up their firm betting the opposite way)

He was discouraged many and nearly got out of his CDS contracts many times along the way. When the subprime bonds collapsed, but the CDS failed to go up in value, his stress multiplied. He made numerous calls to his broker, saying: "Prices have to fall - how can you not understand this - call me back - bye!" One day he ended the call crying "why? Why? WHY?"

His friend, who made the same bet on a much smaller scale, said, "The truth is, when Greene thinks he's right, he puts the wad down. When I think I'm right, I'm not as sure."

Finally, the trade worked, and by 2009, Greene was down to just $100 million in CDS protection, the valuable memento of a trade that netted him about $500 million in profit, one of the largest gains by an individual investor in Wall Street history.

Dr. Michael Burry's story.
Michael Lewis covers Dr. Burry's story in more detail than Zuckerman, but this accounting is also interesting and adds color to the other story. Dr. Burry was a trained doctor who quit medicine to do a form of value investing. He was funded by hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt. He had excellent performance picking stocks until he drifted in style and put on the short subprime trade in size. In both Zuckerman and Lewis accounts, he is a beleaguered hero.

He was raised poor, dressed in discount clothing from a local Kmart. "I never had more than one or two friends, if that. I always was a bit of an outsider." Burry recalls.

In June 2000, Greenblatt gave him a million dollars for 22.5% of the business. Burry used some of the proceeds to pay off his school loans. He started his fund, called Scion. By 2003, he was managing $250 million and making $5 million per year.

After producing great performance for clients for 5 years, he put on the CDS trade and clients got impatient as he lost 18% in one year. Greenblatt demanded a face-to-face meeting with him after he announced that he would put the trades into a side pocket with a lock-up. (Only months earlier, Greenblatt had told a financial TV network that Burry was among the world's top investors.)

"Cut your losses now. The trades could be a zero in the making." Actually, Greenblatt was facing his own pressures because his firm Gotham had received withdrawal requests from 20% of its investors. Days later, after meeting with Burry, Greenblatt's lawyers called Burry, threatening a lawsuit if he went through with the side pocket lock-up.

Burry felt intense pressure and said at the end of 2006: "A money manager does not go from being a near nobody to being nearly universally applauded to being nearly universally vilified without some effect." (Another good lesson for hedge fund managers here: clients don't care about you at all - they only care about how much money they can make with you and if that changes, their attitudes will change. The earlier in the career that a manager learns this, the better.)

Dr. Burry made it through 2007 with a gain in his funds of over 150%. His Scion fund itself grew by $700 million from gains in the year. His subprime trades had quadrupled in value, scoring gains of about $500 million over two years. He personally made about $70 million. He closed down his funds, bitter from lack of appreciation by clients.

George Lippmann.
George Lippmann is the Deutsche Bank bond trader that followed Burry's lead on shorting subprime by buying CDS protection. Zuckerman is much more complimentary about Lippmann than Michael Lewis was. Lewis describes him as a sleazy bond trader that took the idea from Burry and ran with it. Zuckerman goes into more detail, showing that even he had to fight to defend his contrarian opinion.

Lippmann did this trade mainly for DB, and for his hedge fund clients, such as Philip Falcone of Harbinger, who did the trade after a quick one-hour pitch. (Falcone was one of the big winners of the subprime mess).

Behind his back, he was called "chicken little" or "bubble boy" and even laughed at during conferences - bond traders laughed, saying, and "your crazy trade is losing money." As Michael Lewis highlighted, those with the most knowledge about the CDO bonds were the most easily duped. Lippmann began to avoid investors with deep knowledge of mortgages when he pitched his CDS trade - they were lost causes, relying on models that told them all would be fine. He ended up making large bonuses, but not nearly as much money as the others, because ironically, DB was hit with big losses on subprime.

Andrew Lahde.
Michael Lewis doesn't cover this interesting character, but Zuckerman does with detail. Lahde was the manager of a very small fund that bet against subprime. He ended up making $10 million personally on the trade, quit the business, and wrote a "Jerry Maguire -like" manifesto decrying the industry and the Ivy League "idiots" that he felt he had personally outsmarted.

Lahde was 35 years old when the fund he worked for shut down. He didn't rush back into work. He did apply for some jobs, but they didn't pan out because he was uninterested in junior positions.

Lahde graduated from second-tier Michigan State with honors, with an interest in math and the stock markets. After college, he worked as a broker at TD Waterhouse, making only $30,000 per year as a broker. He was rejected by every business school he applied to for two years in a row. Finally, he was accepted to UCLA's second-tier program, the last student taken off their waiting list. At UCLA, he bristled at his more privileged classmates, some of whom graduated from prep schools and Ivy League universities but didn't seem bright to him. He was almost kicked out for getting an F in Human Resources class, which he blamed on his repeated challenges to the professor's weak arguments during class discussions. This angered him, since he was paying his own way, draining the savings from his earlier jobs, while most classmates were enjoying a free ride courtesy of their families.

Then he landed a job at Roth Capital, "a third-tier investment bank in nearby Newport Beach known for raising money for small, usually obscure companies. He was miserable from day on, itching to invest money rather than sell securities to investors." He left and set up Lahde Capital in his 800 sq-ft. apartment. He didn't have much of his own money to invest, compounding matters. He was worth only about $150,000 and needed most of it to pay his firm's bills and his own living expenses. He did eventually raise $2 million from a few investors, but he was exhausted and quit. Finally, in November 2006, Lehman Brothers (ironic) allowed him to trade some CDS contracts. He raised another $1.5 million, was down to $100k of savings and owned CDS protection on only $17 million.

He then redoubled his efforts on his marketing materials, writing and re-writing the presentation, repeatedly. He raised more money with it.

Like everyone else, he was whipsawed when the ABX (the subprime index) fell yet recovered strongly, but kept in the trade. To cut his expenses, he rarely left his apartment, eating only tuna fish out of a can some nights.

Finally, by late 2006, his residential-mortgage fund gained 1000%, or about $75 million in 15 months, one of the best runs in history. Lahde made $100 million on the trade for clients over this period and earned $10 million for himself.

He capped off his success by writing his manifesto, which took Ivy League "idiots" to task. He explained why he was dropping out of the money game, and advocating the legalization of hemp. Zuckerman includes the entire manifesto in the book, including this funny part: "The evil female plant- marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover...My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other addictive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers. This policy is ludicrous..."

His manifesto was widely read on Wall Street, especially by hedge funds.

Mortgage Mayhem- Subprime Collapse history.
Zuckerman lays out the incredible story of the real estate bubble. Years from now (or maybe sooner), it will seem as crazy as the tulip mania in Holland.

By 2005, 24% of all mortgages were down with no down payment, up from 3% in 2001. Over 40% had no documentation, up from 27%. An amazing 12% had no down payment and no documentation, up from 1% in 2001. Non-primes were 25% of all loans in the US, up from 1% a decade earlier. One-third of new loans were interest-only, up from less than 1% in 2000, and 43% of first-time buyers put no money down at all.

Typical example: Alberto & Rosa Ramirez, a couple of berry pickers in California who each made $300 per week, bought a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in Hollister for $720,000. They got their zero-down mortgage from New Century, with monthly payments of $5378, but the agent said they could refinance soon and "get payments down to $3000 or less."

Like most manias, the so-called "experts" were the least likely to see how ridiculous things had become. Zuckerman has a long, enjoyable list of examples.

Anthony Mozilo, the lizard-skinned CEO of Countrywide said down payments should be eliminated so more people could buy homes because "this is the only way we can have a better society." He called down payments "nonsense" because "it's often not their money anyway." (Of course neglecting the moral hazard of walking away, and the risk to the bank/investors, which would be partially covered by the down payment, no matter whose money it was.)

New Century: David Einhorn, who operates a big hedge fund was a big shareholder and on the board of this debacle.

Barney Frank, ranking minority member of the House Financial Services Committee said this about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2003: "I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing." ("Unsafety?" this is a made up word only a politician could utter.)

Jamie Dimon - when asked by Greene about his subprime short trade didn't even know what CDS were! Greene said to Dimon: "Hey, Jamie. My biggest position is shorting subprime credit through credit-default swaps. I've done four hundred million with you guys." Greene was taken aback- Dimon didn't even know how to answer his question. The head of one of the biggest banks on Wall Street didn't even know what a CDS was.

Bear Stearns, the first firm to be insolvent due to holding subprime debt on their balance sheet said: "you guys are good customers and we're concerned about you. You guys need to do more research on historical price appreciation."

Dow Kim, head of Merrill's investment banking vowed to do "whatever it takes" to stay number one in CDOs. In 2006, the firm racked up $700 million of fees by issuing $44 billion subprime CDOs, up from $14 billion the year before. Stan O'Neal paid himself $18.5M cash bonus and $48 million in total pay based on this foolishness. By the end of 2006, there were $1.2 trillion of subprime loans, 10% of the overall mortgage market. However, by creating so many synthetic CDOs there were actually $5 trillion of investments created based on the risky loans. O'Neal left wit h$161 million in his pocket, on top of $70 million that he took home during hi four-year tenure.

Chuck Prince, CEO of Citi (who received $25.6 million in pay in 2006) said famously: "When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing." By June 2008, he would resign under pressure as the bank booked over $15 billion in losses, mostly from CDO investments. He left with $110 million, an office, an assistant, a car, and a driver.

Bill Gross: "I think the global economy is sufficiently strong and the U.S. economy probably will avoid a recession."

AIG FP's Joseph Cassano, head of the division that wrote protection for billions of mortgage investments (and was subsequently bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $85 BILLION!): "It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing $1 on any of those transactions."

Even George Soros, when Paulson argued that banks were in trouble and shared that he was shorting some of them. "I thought the risk-reward was better in other trades," Soros recalls.

Even in Paulson's moment of triumph, skeptics thought they knew better.
153 internautes sur 191 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Did Paulson Himself Charter this Book? 8 mars 2010
Par S. Bern - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book is a 30k foot level view of the financial crisis, poorly conceived, poorly executed. I've read just about all of Michael Lewis's books and articles covering the financial crisis, and he did a piece for Portfolio Mag. before it went under about the same topic. By the end of that article I was on the edge of my seat because he took you INTO the action, you were sitting there making a trade. I still remember Lewis's description of the traders in his article sitting in Sept. 08, shaking, watching traders leave the NY Stock exchange, knowing what they'd just pulled off. Anyway, compare that to this... the whole thing is written with an air of naivete and awestruck envy, like as if Zuckerman asked Paulson to put together a roundup of his accomplishments so the former could introduce the latter at a cocktail party or something, or Zuckerman wants to get invited to the big "bashes" he continually says Paulson hosts.

Zuckerman also looses credibility throughout the book. For example, on page 72, Zuckerman discusses Paulson's first foray into Credit Default Swaps (CDSes). After making a $500k bet, to insure $100 million, he writes "Soon their position faced some small losses. They discovered that the value of CDS protection falls as the underlying debt gets closer to maturity." OK, really? Zuckerman expects me to believe that they didn't know this? Paulson and co had been playing in derivative markets for decades, and this is standard behavior of most, perhaps all, date-based derivatives, and I think I learned this in my undergrad finance course the first week. Zuckerman gradually looses credibility like this the whole book until @ the end we wonder if he really knows what he's writing about.

Another example of the just strange reporting (p. 38): "Paulson went out of his way to embrace Jenny and her family. The couple agreed to wed in an Episcopalian church in Southhampton, and Paulson became friendly with the priest. Light streamed through the seaside church's Tiffany windows as the sun set and the ceremony began." You would, reasonably, expect this paragraph to be followed by, well, a description of the ceremony perhaps? Or an anecdote on the significance of Paulson getting friendly w/ the priest? You'd be wrong on both counts -- this is just an example of many strange irrelevant facts unskillfully woven into the book -- the next paragraph actually jumps forward 3 years and talks about other aspects of Paulson's private life. That's all we hear about the priest and the ceremony!

Anyway, the writing style here is not well developed -- gets annoying after about the first 50 pages.
62 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
unfocused, poorly written; for whom was this book intended? 5 avril 2010
Par xt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
i was sold on this book from the editorial reviews. 2 days later after finishing im lost as to the purpose of the book.

a list of what this book is NOT:
-examination of greater market environment at the time
-expose of the mechanics behind the 'greatest trade ever'
-romanticism of the trading and the players' lifestyles

it is not an economics text, nor a technical text, nor a drama of personal intrigue. rather it is a shallow effort of all 3 that very much READS DRYLY like a ticker-tape stock quote. the book repeats the story of different market players, starting with multiple (extraneous) layers of their family life through their business life and to the aftermath of the subprime meltdown. within this framework of repetition zuckerman belabors the same points: (1)these guys are associated via alumni or social networks and (2) and movement in product XXX correlates to YYY effects to their portfolio; did he intend to offend readers' intelligence or simply to make filler? (and the answer seems is likely both)

the background of these subjects, presumably for their characterization, is presented as an absolute BORE. little anecdotes from their lives are written in such a empty, matter-of-factly way to the point of senselessness and AWKWARDNESS. imagine your pub conversation when a hilarious event is told by a friend with absolutely no skill in story-telling.

to the point, though -- the greatest trade ever -- whether the truth or an injustice by zuckerman, the players are NOT conveyed as geniuses with high business acumen. there is no "angle". the whole REDUCTIVE "play"* was a few people who believed the housing market to be a bubble and bought insurance against the fulfillment of mortgages... and they bought lots of it.

*(to be fair, one person was tersely credited with an engineering of market products to make the trading possible...)

the 300 page book can be condensed as follow (and it reads equally as DULL):

-bob was born to jerry and jessica
-bob met and married jane
-jane and bob had a son michael
-michael went to harvard
-michael struggled with his 500k salary, and felt inadequate compared to his peers
-michael divorced his wife
-michael speculates housing is about to collapse, purchase insurance (CDS) against their fulfillment
-housing actually collapses, michael receives money. the end.

this book is too vague and boring for students/participants of the market. and it is too dull and dry for outsiders looking into the market. wouldve been best for someones unread blog.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Right place, right time 6 novembre 2009
Par Amy Y. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The Greatest Trade Ever is a peek behind the curtain that veils the inner working of Wall Street. The plot centers around the capitalization of John Paulson and others on the demise of the subprime market. While Paulson has risen to somewhat god-like status on Wall Street, this book portrays him as the tortoise- sticking to the tried and true while everyone else was losing their heads trying to milk the real estate bubble.

Paulson wasn't always perceived as the guy to watch. This book follows the rise of his star as he predicts the subprime crisis. Zuckerman does an excellent job of fleshing out the man behind the legend. Rather than exacting financial heroics, Zuckerman's portrayal of Paulson shows his determined pursuit of the tried and true methods which ultimately lead to success and notoriety.

In the beginning, Paulson comes off somewhat bland and staid- a stick-to-the-stats kinda guy... that eventually lands him billions of dollars. I think what made this so intriguing was Zuckerman's interviews and direct insider access. The reader gets to follow the execution of, literally, the greatest trade ever. We also get a close-to-the-ground view of the machinations of Wall Street which is fascinating in and of itself. What went into Paulson's success was arriving at a very simple analysis of how real estate prices had varied from what the historical trend suggested. Arriving at that simple analysis, however, was a very complex process and Paulson wasn't the only one attempting to capture that. The nearest I can describe, it comes off like a horse race with Paulson coming from behind in the last furlong to win the Derby.

Paulson was not without doubts and reading Zuckerman's account of Paulson's personal struggle with those doubts, overcoming various obstacles and finally reaping unprecedented success is truly riveting. I am a bit of an economics geek, but I really think that almost anyone would find this book entertaining, if not fascinating.
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