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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.