The Greatest Trade Ever: A podcast with author Gregory Zuckerman.

Commentary about business and finance.
Nov. 4 2009 2:42 PM

The Greatest Trade Ever

A podcast with author Gregory Zuckerman.

The Big Money presents Every Day I Read the Book, featuring Daniel Gross. Dan's guest is Gregory Zuckerman, author of the book The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History.

Virtually all of the scores of books spawned by the great housing/credit meltdown of 2007 and 2008 have focused on the losers—institutions, individuals, sectors, and countries that saw their fortunes upended. Few have focused on the winners, in part because they've been difficult to find. But Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman found one: hedge fund manager John Paulson. In The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History,Zuckerman describes how a relatively obscure middle-aged hedge fund manager, with little previous experience in housing or mortgage trading, made billions of dollars by betting against subprime mortgages, and then against the financial companies that originated and traded them. Even though we know how the story ends, it's a tension-filled narrative. Betting against housing and housing credit put Paulson on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the immense financial-government complex that helped propel growth in the mortgage market. And when you're betting that a certain market or sector will plunge, you have to get both the story and the timing right. The Greatest Trade Ever pairs Paulson's story with those of other, lesser-known investors who were engaged in similar investment strategies. And it didn't work out equally well for all of them.

Listen using our audio player below, or download the MP3.

Subscribe to the Every Day I Read the Book podcast on iTunes. Theme music by Ben Waltzer.

Daniel Gross is a longtime Slate contributor. His most recent book is Better, Stronger, Faster . Follow him on Twitter.

Win Rosenfeld is the multimedia producer for The Big Money.