Saturday, March 20, 2010

BusinessWeek Magazine: Mar 22/29 Issue

Three articles of note I found in the latest issue of BusinessWeek... all with a common theme that I'll call hubris about money.

The most interesting was the last I came across... a review of the new Michael Lewis book "The Big Short". Being a fan of the handful of Lewis books I've read (most recent reviewed here), I'm always curious about new stuff by him and based on the BW review, this sounds fascinating. The idea is a chronicling of several individuals who made boatloads of money predicting the real estate crash of 1998. Specifically, they shorted some of the high-risk mortgage securities out there and flew in the face of conventional wisdom at the time... which assumed everyone would continue getting rich forever off real estate.

It certainly didn't help me at the time (since I still bought a house at the 2005 peak of the market), but I recall thinking about what would happen if home values actually were to go down... and be down when people's exotic low fixed rate loans adjusted to significantly higher conventional loans. Well, these guys did think about that and made themselves rich from it.

I'll now have to actually read the book to say any more, but the review itself is an indicator that it should be good.


In the same category of books and people assuming perpetual riches was an excerpt from the Harry Markopolos book "No One Would Listen". All about the author's experiences with those close to and making money (or so they thought) in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, it's pretty compelling reading. Even if it didn't make sense upon examination, people wouldn't question the source of money that they thought Madoff was making them.


Finally from this issue was the short piece "Can Manchester United Kick Its Debt Habit?" Simple summary would be... rich guys thought they'd get richer by borrowing huge sums of money and then began to get crushed under the debt payments.

Hmmm... seems to relate a bit to the other two articles linked to here, doesn't it?