cover image Panic! The Story of Modern Financial Insanity

Panic! The Story of Modern Financial Insanity

Michael Lewis, . . Norton, $27.95 (391pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06514-5

Lewis (Liar’s Poker ) takes readers on a spin through notable recent financial catastrophes including the stock market’s 1987 crash, the Russian default and related failure of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, the Asian currency crisis, the Internet bust and the recent subprime debacle. While the collection is comprehensive and contains varied and learned commentary, the presented crises beg for more thorough treatment. Lewis is content to rehash the past with (undeniably compelling) previously published analysis by the likes of economists Joseph Stieglitz and Paul Krugman and Wall Street Journal reporters Gregory Zuckerman and Roger Lowenstein. The author wisely includes excerpts from his books and articles, including an account of his time as a trader at Salomon Brothers in the midst of the junk bond crash of 1987 and his observations on the Internet boom and bust. The narrative is certainly elegant and the arguments are on-target; the author lambastes shoddy risk management at financial firms, the “foolish principles that have guided the behavior of sophisticated Wall Street traders” and the common man in this current crisis, and the problems caused “by the new complexities of the financial markets,” but readers seeking serious solutions to our current woes will be disappointed. (Jan.)