The Greatest Trade Ever, By Gregory Zuckerman

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The Independent Culture

Before the 2008 crash, while most investors threw money into a housing bubble, a select group of clever US finance types were staking equally staggering sums on them being wrong. The Greatest Trade Ever is an excitable, well-researched account of this disparate minority. The lead character is John Paulson, the hedge-fund manager involved in the deals which led to Goldman Sachs' recent $550m record fine.

After a slowish start with plenty of background, the book picks up pace when house prices level out and Paulson's gamble pays off. Credit default swaps and collateralised debt obligations abound, and while this is not a simple guidebook to the sub-prime crisis, Gregory Zuckerman repeats explanations until you know your bearish investors from your bulls.

The book mentions the moral question hanging over these deals a few times, but that's not really what Zuckerman, a Wall Street Journal staffer, is interested in. He's enthralled by the magnitude of markets, financial wizardy, and the personalities who did their homework and held their nerve.