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The Best Financial Crisis Books

The term financial crisis may be used to describe different situations. But the most common use is to describe when financial assets decline in value by a large percentage. Sometimes economists and historians offer theories on how a financial crisis happened. Others analyze events to prevent it from happening again. If you’re interested in such topics, you’re in the right place.

And it has rippling effects in the country it occurs in as well as the world economy. Stock market crashes, currency crises, and financial bubble bursting are sometimes referred to as financial crises.

Quicklook: Best Financial Crisis Books

  • After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead – Buy on Amazon
  • House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again – Buy on Amazon
  • All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis – Buy on Amazon
  • Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System – and Themselves – Buy on Amazon
  • Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crisis – Buy on Amazon
  • Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, 7th Ed. – Buy on Amazon
  • The Financial Crisis and Free Market Cure – Buy on Amazon
  • Unfinished Business: The Unexplored Causes of the Financial Crisis and the Lessons Yet to be Learned – Buy on Amazon
  • Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street – Buy on Amazon
  • Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World – Buy on Amazon

What to Look for in a Financial Crisis Book

There are a few books about general financial crises. Some are based on historical crises and others might be the authors’ own perception of a financial crisis, which could include warnings about a predicted crisis. But unlike a search for finance books or business books, some of the books about this topic may not be immediately obvious.

Why? Because financial crises happened all over the place throughout history. You may have to narrow down your search by country and time period to find exactly what you want.

In addition, many books on the different situations that resulted in a financial crisis are disguised as historical textbooks. So you may have to contend with the writer’s perspective.

What would you like to read? A historian’s account of the events? Or maybe economic analysis is what you’re looking for? Books on the subject may broach both points of view. But the analysis may skew to one perspective or another depending on what you pick up.

Reputable Author

Anyone can give you an account of what they think happened. After all, history is a record in someone’s perspective. So, when searching for books on a particular financial crisis, you may want to look at the author.

Make sure that the author is reputable on the subject. And that they can provide a recount and analysis that’s worthy of your time.

Before you pick up a new book, find out who wrote it. Furthermore, read the author’s biography if you’re unfamiliar with them. Find out if they’re qualified to write about the subject matter.

Provides Enough History and Context

Whether you’re reading an analysis or memoir, there are certain details that help maintain credibility. Historical details and context can help you understand what was going on at the time. What was the popular belief? What were the events that led up to the crisis?

Understanding the history and context are as important as the situational crisis itself. They provide clues to how and why it happened and may also provide theories about how to prevent it from happening again. Even though few economists of note have ever accurately predicted a financial crisis.

Our Top Financial Crisis Books

The financial crisis of 2008 is relatively fresh in everyone’s mind. And the current political chaos may leave you wondering if it could happen again. Learn from history with the following books on financial crises with a focus on the Great Recession:

After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead

Do you need a chronological narrative of what happened prior to the United States’ plunge into economic crisis? Princeton professor Alan S. Blinder offers an authoritative recount of the events that led up to the economic crisis. He goes on to identify 7 forces that caused this crisis, including:

  • inflated asset prices
  • lax financial regulation
  • excessive leverage
  • unregulated securities and derivatives

Furthermore, Blinder goes on to propose that improved policies and regulations may help prevent a future crisis.

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House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again

  • Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to read about how household debt contributed to the crisis
  • Price: Free Trial – $19.99

Authors Atif Mian and Amir Sufi posit that the crisis of 2008 was due, in large part, to an increase in household debt.

The public was fixated on the mortgage crisis that surrounded the Great American Recession.

However, these economists have different theories and they’re armed with data to prove it.

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All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

  • Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to know the hidden history of Wall Street key players
  • Price: Free Trial – $18.00

This book casts a spotlight on the key players or “devils” of Wall Street, Main Street, and the government. And highlights their complex interrelationships.

Business journalists Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera weave an intriguing narrative about these big players that ultimately culminated in the financial crisis. And it may not be what you’re expecting.

This book is slightly different because instead of merely looking at economic factors, it takes a peek into motivation. And it makes this piece of history interesting because it brings in a human nature element that may be missing from policy discussions.

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Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System – and Themselves

Do you want a dramatic and readable account of the financial crisis? Find out why it happened and how it was dealt with in this historical retelling.

Reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers a blow-by-blow account of the crisis. And the difficult decisions that policymakers were faced with.

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Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crisis

  • Who’s it for? Someone who wants to read a memoir written by someone in the middle of the crisis
  • Price: Free Trial – $15.00

Are you likely to feel sympathy after reading a memoir by any of the lead players of the financial crisis? Probably not. They may come across as self-serving and not persuasive at all.

You may feel differently when you read Timothy F. Geithner’s account of the crisis. This former Secretary of the Treasury gives readers a clear-eyed, and sometimes brutal, first-person narration of the crisis from the inside.

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Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, 7th Ed.

Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, 7th Ed.
Buy now: $16.00
  • Who’s it for? Those looking for a primer on historical financial crises
  • Price: $16.00

This text takes a look at the 5 stages leading up to a financial crisis. It also looks at market development patterns that may lead to a crisis.

Keep in mind that this book takes a look at historical financial crises around the world and not necessarily America. As such, it’s a good option for anyone who wants an international perspective on financial crises.

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The Financial Crisis and Free Market Cure

This book by John Allison paints the government as the villains of the Great Recession, not financial institutions. In this original take on the crisis, the author suggests that government incentives were the cause of the real estate bubble and its subsequent burst. And how financial tools are wrongly blamed for the crisis.

The author also includes topics like:

  • regulation is bad for the market
  • promoting a healthy free market
  • TARP and bailouts

Unlike other books on this topic, Allison reveals that the government can’t fix the economy because they were responsible for the crisis. And that free market capitalism is the only way to get the economy back on its feet.

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Unfinished Business: The Unexplored Causes of the Financial Crisis and the Lessons Yet to be Learned

  • Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a deeper look at how under-regulated trade led to the crisis
  • Price: Free Trial – $17.00

You may find books that talk about the financial crisis from the U.S or European perspective. But often, those books are exclusive in their context. This book by Tamim Bayoumi is a little different.

Rather than dealing with both subjects separately, Bayoumi suggests that the Euro crisis and housing crash in the U.S. were related. The author goes back to the 80s and outlines policy errors that undermined the stability of both the Euro and U.S. sectors. If you’re intrigued by theories of North Atlantic financial crises, you may want to pick up this one.

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Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street

Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street
  • Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to read a critique of the financial sector
  • Price: Free Trial – 12.99

Are you wondering why the financial sector took heat for the crisis in 2008? This critique may answer some vital questions. Finance journalist Rana Foroohar talks about how the economic system is geared to favor the rich at the expense of the working class. And these policies and beliefs led to the financial crisis.

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Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
  • Who’s it for? Anyone looking for a historical account of the economic collapse of the 1920s
  • Price: Free Trial – 20.99

This book is a little different because it doesn’t talk about the recent financial crisis. Instead, it takes the reader back in time to the Great Depression back in the late 20s. And it gives readers a portrait of the 4 men who had a hand in the economic collapse.

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Take Your Pick From These Excellent Books

You may find many books about financial crises. Many of them may reference the financial crisis of 2008. However, you may also find theoretical financial crisis books and those on financial crises of the past.

Which one should you read? You don’t necessarily need to read specifically about the Great Recession to gain a better understanding of financial crises. A balanced approach can enhance your understanding of financial crises in general.

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