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We all know that 2008 was a terrible year for many of us.
When banks began to collapse, business seemed to go into a freefall. Lenders could no longer give out money to aspiring entrepreneurs. People found themselves at the mercy of layoffs. Homeowners were caught in mortgages they couldn't pay off.
The 2008 financial crisis was one of the most devastating things to happen to the economy since the Great Depression. It was a time when everyone, both rich and poor, struggled. It was also a time that fascinates economists, if only because it shows what happens when greed runs amok.
Some books on the 2008 financial crisis offer advice that can help you survive another major crash. Others will show you how it all happened in deep drama. Even if you're not a banker, these titles will give you chills down your spine, and make you rethink what you know about finance.
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Remember when you kept hearing the talking heads on TV ask if banks are "too big to fail?" It was a phrase that defined the Great Recession, and was the biggest rallying cry against the bailouts that saved the finance industry.
It's been over 10 years since the financial crisis struck, and Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail still remains one of the best books on the 2008 financial crisis ever written.
This book about Wall Street scandals gives you an inside look at what sparked the crisis, and how financial professionals had to struggle to save their industry. Written by a respected New York Times financial reporter, this story will give you a great account of what happened inside boardrooms across the nation.
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy Geithner
If you've ever studied engineering, then you probably already know what a stress test is. It's a test that figures out how much a system can take before it breaks, and to a point, it's a great allegory of what happened in the years building up to the crisis.
Timothy Geithner was a man who helped our nation navigate the financial crisis when it happened, and this is his tell-all book. Expect an intimate look at what it took to turn a nation around after its total collapse.
The Shifts and the Shocks by Martin Wolf
We all like to think that we learned major lessons during the financial crisis, but did we really? Martin Wolf, chief financial commentator of the Financial Times, doesn't fully believe we have.
The Shifts and the Shocks is an incredibly insightful book, taking a look at how the public perception of the financial world changed during the crisis and the Great Recession.
Wolf takes a look at how people learned to cope during the crisis, what macroeconomic shifts took place, and what we should be taking away from the financial havoc that happened when the crisis happened.
How Markets Fail by John Cassidy
Among finance experts, there seem to be two major groups to blame when it comes to the Great Recession. Some blame the government, others blame the market.
How Markets Fail is New Yorker finance writer John Cassidy's take on the way the markets crumbled back in 08. His party to blame? The markets, and the unbridled greed that made people push bad policy.
13 Bankers by Simon Johnson and James Kwak
Prior to 2008, the banking industry was more powerful and deregulated than ever before. Around 60 percent of our country's gross domestic product was held in the hands of six different megabanks—headed by a total of 13 bankers.
The oligarchy in charge of the banks showed what happens when bankers decide to hold entire economies hostage as a way to fight against change. 13 Bankers is one of the most persuasive books on the 2008 financial crisis to bring up the issue of Big Banking.
With a rally cry against the conglomerate of big banks, 13 Bankers makes you realize that the best way to avoid another 2008 is to break up all the banks.
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
It's no secret that most finance professionals call The Big Short one of the greatest books written about financial crises in history. This book delivers an amazing narrative of how peoples' speculation make the housing boom go haywire—and why that boiled over into a major crisis.
Michael Lewis has an amazing way of telling the tales of people who all the signs of trouble in the stock market, and the way they were able to short it with a little bit of forward thinking. How you look at top investors will forever change once you see how the way Wall Street minds work.
Makers and Takers by Rana Foroohar
A lot of the books on the 2008 financial crisis talk about the drama that happened in bank boardrooms, but what about the drama that ensued in small businesses? Rana Foroohar's Makers and Takers shows a different side to the crisis most books didn't look into.
Wall Street's impact on Main Street has often been debated, but Rana is convinced that the answer is clear. The 2008 crisis shows how Wall Street is quickly bankrupting Main Street businesses, all while making money from your money and taking consumer power out of the average American's hands.
This exposé on our corrupted financial system shows how the people who need the most regularly end up harmed by the wealthy elite. If you read this, prepare to become enraged.
Unfinished Business: The Unexplored Causes of the Financial Crisis and the Lessons Yet to be Learned by Tamim Bayoumi
Most books on the Great Recession's beginnings will point their fingers at bankers who got greedy, politicians who got stupid, and Wall Street. This is all fairly true, but only to a point.
Unfinished Business is a little different. While acknowledging the banks' roles in the financial meltdown of last decade, author Tamim Bayoumi points out other causes that exacerbated the environment until the pot boiled over.
Thankfully, it's not all just rage literature. There are villains and heroes alike in this book, which just goes to show you that things could have been far, far worse.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
When the Lehman Brothers started issuing out subprime mortgages and people stopped being able to pay them, everyone started to realize that they were entering an era of financial hardship. And yet, it seems like history repeats itself—at least, through Ahamed's eyes.
You see, history really does have a repetitive nature. The Great Depression was kicked off in a similar manner and was also the direct outcome of the decisions of a handful of bankers.
The parallels this book draws are eerie, to say the least.
The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure by John A. Allison
Are you tired of all the books on the 2008 financial crisis talking about how it was all bankers' faults? Do you want to see a book that's willing to play the devil's advocate for once?
You may like John Allison's The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure. Written by the head of the Cato Free Market Institute, this book explains how the crisis wasn't a free market failure, but a failure of a government that didn't allow things to unfold naturally.