Study Guide

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Chapter 10

By Michael Lewis

Chapter 10

Two Men in a Boat

  • By the end of 2007, FrontPoint has doubled its fund from $700 million to $1.5 billion. Everyone is eager to cash out before the market fully crashes, though. In other words, they're going to be left with nothing if the firm they bought swaps from goes bankrupt. They'll need to sell before it's too late.
  • On March 14th, Eisman is invited to give a speech in front of Deutsche Bank's investors. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is also on the docket.
  • Eisman's speech is called "'Why This Time Is Different'" (10.16). It eviscerates Wall Street and the subprime market in that magical way only Eisman can.
  • While Eisman speaks, there's financial news buzzing through the audience: Bear Stearns' stock has halved in value. No one pays much attention to the next speaker.
  • On Monday, Bear Stearns is "sold to J. P. Morgan for $2 a share" (10.34).
  • The news keeps coming. In September, Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, and Merrill Lynch is sold to Bank of America. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, promises to lend $85 billion to AIG.
  • FrontPoint continues to short any company that they find to be related to the subprime market, making tens of millions in additional profits.
  • One day, the situation becomes so stressful that Danny thinks he's having a heart attack. He and Vinny skedaddle from the office.
  • Meanwhile, the guys at Cornwall are rich but still angry at the financial industry. They try to take legal action against the big companies but come up short.
  • Burry, on the other hand, wants to get out of finance altogether. Annoyed at his investors for their lack of trust and at the press for crediting other people with his innovation, Burry closes his fund in 2008.
  • Back in NYC, Eisman receives a call from Danny about his "heart attack" and learns that he's sitting with Vinny and Porter outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
  • To his credit, Eisman has mellowed out since he's been proven right. He's a lot less likely to verbally tear his foes apart, which we suppose is a good thing, though less entertaining.
  • Everyone is still reeling, however. They also feel guilty, as their actions sped up the process a little bit.
  • As they watch people walk by, the guys wonder when normal people will realize how they are each personally affected by the actions of Wall Street.