Roger Lowenstein is one of the most consistently insightful yet energetic chroniclers of the financial world; I loved When Genius Failed (2002) and Origins of the Crash(2004) and he has also written about Warren Buffet. That he generally tackles financial disasters and is a savage critic of basic tenets of the modern financial priesthood must be recognized, so don’t go looking for glamorisation, but with that known perspective in mind, his books are distinguished by skilful narration, excellent first-hand interviews, a literate style, and meticulous referencing.
The End of Wall Street proves no exception to these accolades, indeed I’d class it as one of his best books. Covering the Global Financial Crisis from inception to gory crash, it has come out later than the other GFC narratives I have read (the author himself somewhat caustically congratulates his forerunners), but the delay has allowed Lowenstein to ascend higher on his helicopter to scan the landscape. All the many assessed culprits, from loosened regulation, slack regulators, greedy mortgage originators, bankers inventing and flogging derivatives, risk-taking by banks, to uncomprehending rating agencies . . . Lowenstein weaves them all together into a crackerjack tale that would be rejected as fanciful in a novel. Add Lowenstein’s mastery of the terrain and his garnering of many fine interviews, and this is as good as you’ll get in surveying the barely comprehended wreckage. You may well disagree with his analysis of root causes but you’ll gain immensely in knowledge.
The End of Wall Street is one of the two GFC books you should read right now and urgently. 4 stars.