Study Guide

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine What's Up With the Ending?

By Michael Lewis

What's Up With the Ending?

We have two endings to look at with this one, so buckle in, Shmoopers.

The first ending is the culmination of the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, when the stock market crashes. Our heroes have made a bunch of money—and the baddies have lost theirs (sort of)—but this still isn't necessarily a happy ending. After all, the banks and financial firms are bailed out by the government—a luxury certainly not extended to millions of American now in massive debt. Lesson: if you're too big to fail, you won't get punished. No matter what you do.

With that in mind, we close out the novel with the dudes from FrontPoint Partners sitting on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, wondering when the people walking the streets will understand how this invisible crisis affects them.

After this, The Big Short closes with a shout epilogue in which author Michael Lewis has lunch with his former boss from Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund. Lewis argues that the subprime crisis was made possible by Gutfreund, whose decision to make Salomon Brothers the first publicly traded Wall Street firm detached investment companies from the needs of their investors for the first time. This brings the book full circle, helping us understand the complex series of events, starting in the '80s, that led to the 2008 stock market crash.