Extreme Money (2011) by Satyajit Das is a follow on to the excellent Traders, Guns and Money . Das is a lawyer and banker who has worked in the financial industry for over 30 years. Das has now chosen to cash on the GFC related genre of financial disaster porn. The book is amusing, but it’s not as good as his previous book.
Das is a highly amusing writer. He has a deep understanding of his subject, is a good writer and has vast general knowledge that he uses to brighten the account of finance that he is making. The book puts forward the thesis that an over reliance on financial engineering has led to people finding new ways to confuse risk and encourage highly leveraged investments and that this has led to a bubble and to poor resource allocation. Das is also smart enough to ponder the question of whether the financial industry can be well controlled. He is familiar with the cycle of boom and bust that extends throughout history and refers to the This Time is Different and Mania’s Panics and Crashes.
The chapter titles sparkle, Spend it Like Beckham, Shock-Gen, ARMs Race and so on. There are references to Tennyson, Cantona, Kirkegard as well as Merton, Scholes, Keynes and the usual economists. Das delights in making fun of everyone in finance and does a fine job of it too. He even makes fun of the genre of financial disaster porn that he is contributing to.
The problem with the book is that it isn’t as focused as Traders, Guns and Money which was a shorter tighter book. But Extreme Money is still fun to read and is well worth a look for anyone interested in the GFC who also wants entertainment in their nonfiction.