10 Best Books About Financial Crisis Update 05/2022

The financial crisis of 2008 caused an economic downturn that some people say was even worse than the Great Depression. It started in the U.S. and quickly spread across the world, causing an international banking emergency that claimed investment giant Lehman Brothers and sparked widespread anger from people who were affected by its policies. As for what those policies were, who was to blame, and how to avoid future crashes, one can start by looking at the many books that came out in the years after the crash.

Through investigative reporting and citizen activism, people learned about how the subprime mortgage market was mishandled. At the same time, though, the federal government was still paying for the bailout of banks that were about to go under, and passing the last-minute Dodd-Frank Act to make things better. The books on this list do a good job of looking at and sometimes dramatizing the crisis through a number of different perspectives. These aren’t just books for people who know a lot about money. They’re page-turners that show what happens when money is more important than people’s well-being.

Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz (2010)

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has written a book called Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy in 2001. It’s an authoritative and cathartic look at the failed policies, corporate greed, and “too big to fail” thinking that led to the collapse of the world economy. For example, the book looks at what led to a recession that was so bad that the economy was on the brink. It also explains what caused the recession, which makes this book one of the best popular histories and one of the most moving critical engagements. Stiglitz looks at the crash and puts all of his knowledge at the reader’s disposal in this look at “bubble capitalism” and what happened after.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis (2010)

Michael Lewis is one of the best nonfiction writers in the United States because of his unconventional approach to financial writing. In The Big Short, he tells the story of the men behind the credit default swap market, who bet against investors and made money from the financial crisis. It’s a little weird to look at his collection of big-name people, but they include the eccentric Meredith Whitney, the hedge fund manager played by Steve Carell in the movie based on the book, and the hedge funders who became millionaires in a few hours.

Bailout by Neil Barofsky (2012)

He was a prosecutor for the US Attorney’s Office when he left his job to oversee the bailout money that the government gave to the banks that had been hit hard by the recession. People who worked on the bailout: An inside look at how Washington gave up on Main Street. If you read his book, “Rescuing Wall Street,” you’ll see that his efforts to hold banks accountable during a time of rampant fraud led to it. The $700 billion TARP fund was used by government officials to help Wall Street instead of the public. But what makes the book so important is how it shows the attitudes that led to the crisis and how they were still in law even when lawyers like Barofsky tried to change them.

Diary of a Very Bad Year (2010)

Diary of a Very Bad Year is a book-length interview with an anonymous hedge fund manager and the editor of the magazine n+1, Keith Gessen. The HFM, as he is called, talks about Bear Stearns, the Madoff scandal, and the devaluation of the dollar with increasing horror.

This Time Is Different by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff (2010)

“This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,” written by economists Reinhart and Rogoff, places the 2008 crisis in context. The book looks at 800 years of global financial turmoil, as well as how national markets have changed over time. With their wide-ranging discussion of equity and combustion, the authors cover a lot of ground and make long-term suggestions to stop the cultural amnesia that allows the same mistakes to happen in the economic and government oversight sectors.

Debt: The first 5,000 Years by David Graeber (2014)

Written in the wake of the financial crisis, David Graeber wrote a new history of debt. He found that debt not only came before the invention of money, but that it has also played an important role in agrarian societies and revolutions across history. Debt is a piece of nonfiction that is both amazing and unique. It tells stories about religious awakening, the rise of empires, and financial disaster.

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett (2010)

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett is a modern book about a feud between a retired history professor and a banking tycoon named Doug Fanning in the state of Massachusetts. For a while, Fanning’s luck was good. He had built the “Union Atlantic” bank into a national powerhouse, but that luck started to go down when he found out his rural house was built on land that was supposed to be preserved for history. Union Atlantic is a character-driven first book that shows the crisis in a vivid way. It looks at the power dynamics and historical blindness that made it possible.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (2009)

A hilarious book about a bad economy and a bad marriage, with a lot of mistakes and a lot of laughs. The Financial Lives of the Poets is a drama by Jess Walter that shows how people will be forced to sell their homes and lose their money. Among the characters is Matt Prior, a poet who writes about finance on a website called “Poetfolio.com.” It turns out that this isn’t as profitable as he thought, so he agrees to try a risky get-rich-quick scheme. Before Beautiful Ruins in 2012, Walter’s name was known because of this book. It was a satire of financial planning and the lack of it.

The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (2011)

Leah Hager Cohen, the author of The Grief of Others, asks hard questions about how long we can feel for the people we say we love. In the book, a Wall Street fixer loses her newborn baby and her marriage is put to the test by infidelity, sorrow, and the arrival of her husband’s daughter from another relationship. In this shockingly modern, on-the-money book, the upheavals of Wall Street are all over the more personal trials of the main character.

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (2010)

This is a drama about the downfall of the family of a private equity firm’s star manager. It looks at who pays when we put a price on happiness, and how far we’re willing to go to make ourselves happy at the expense of others. It’s a good idea to think about these things in light of the financial crisis, which has had a big impact on literature.

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