Wednesday, January 11, 2012

.We review 10 recent books that take on the defining political issue of our time / By Robert Christgau, Barnes & Noble Review / Salon

Reading the financial crisis

We review 10 recent books that take on the defining political issue of our time

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This article appears courtesy of The Barnes & Noble Review.
Last March, seeking a readable take on the prospects of my retirement savings, I picked up Michael “Moneyball” Lewis’s character-driven financial crisis tale “The Big Short.” Soon a word Lewis favors there caught my fancy: quant. A quant is a math whiz who sells his skills to the banking industry. Quants invented, elaborated and tailored the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and credit default swaps (CDSs) that wrecked the world economy, and like everyone in the banking industry, albeit at a higher level of difficulty, they think more in numbers and less in words than I or probably you. The term stayed with me because I was given my college scholarship to become a quant but stubbornly trained instead to become a wordsmith. Soon my math aptitudes atrophied, as did any chance I had to internalize the fast-evolving language that would so profoundly affect my material well-being. In this I’m like most civilians — it’s not an easy language.
Robert Christgau is the author of the collections "Grown Up All Wrong" and "Any Old Way You Choose It," and three books based on his Village Voice Consumer Guide columns. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a music critic for NPR's All Things Considered. More Robert Christgau

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