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Origins of the Crash

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About the Author

Roger Lowenstein, author of the bestselling Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist and When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-term Capital Management, reported for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade and wrote the Journal's stock market column "Heard on the Street" and also its "Intrinsic Value" column. He now contributes articles and reviews to the Journal and the New York Times Magazine and is a columnist for SmartMoney Magazine. He lives in Westfield, New Jersey.


Lowenstein, a well-known author and financial columnist, has crafted a lively and readable account of the last 30 years on Wall Street. Starting with the creation of 401(k) accounts, proceeding through the boom years of the 1990s, and then moving to the downfall of Enron and its brethren, he ties in the various factors that have inexorably led us to where we are today. While none of this is new information, Lowenstein includes enough personal details to make it seem fresh and interesting. The last chapters are particularly relevant, covering the fallout when the various deals and compensation scandals came to light. The effect of 9/11 on the government and the country in general is also touched on, particularly with regard to the rising budget deficit. Finally, an epilog discusses the fines and reforms (including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) that resulted from the various debacles and opinions about what else must be done. The book is heavily documented throughout with quotes and sources, making it authoritative as well as informative. Recommended for public libraries.-Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. of Ohio, Oxford Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Well-known financial journalist Lowenstein (Buffett; When Genius Failed) sets out to explain the stock market crash of 2000 and the ensuing corporate scandals. The ingredients are familiar: executive overcompensation and stock options, irrationally exuberant shareholders, friendly auditors, short-term focus by financial professionals and overemphasis on shareholder value. The author puts his unique stamp on these factors by juxtaposing them so brilliantly that the 20-year history that inflated the bubble seems not just understandable, but inevitable. The story is traced from the doldrums of the 1970s through the raiders and junk bonds of the 1980s to the financial brave new world of the 1990s. In self-conscious parallel to John Kenneth Galbraith's The Great Crash, Lowenstein explains that it is the boom that needs to be explained; the crash is simply the natural consequence. Lowenstein's low-key ease with the most complex financial reporting makes this book both accurate and easy to read, just as his earlier Buffett revealed a fascinating character where other writers saw only dullness, and his Where Genius Failed was a very comprehensible account of the 1998 Long-Term Capital Management blowup. (Jan.) Forecast: The author has two bestsellers to his credit on topics of much narrower interest. Unless the stock market jumps 20% before publication, this could be the top financial book of 2004. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"The perfect epitaph to an era of monumental avarice and folly on Wall Street. This is financial history at its best." --Ron Chernow"A crucial account of an era of excess and folly...riveting...will only seem fresher with time." --BusinessWeek

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