In terms everyone can easily understand, Whitney Tilson and Glenn Tongue dissect the greed and folly that spread from Wall Street to Main Street and caused the mortgage mess. More Mortgage Meltdown serves as an excellent reminder that the ugly side to human nature has far reaching and lasting consequences.
In explaining what happened and why, Tilson and Tongue bring a working knowledge of psychology, a firm understanding of investing, and research that leaves few stones unturned. They were not the first people to determine what a crisis we were in but, to their credit, they were smart enough to listen to others and take appropriate action.
The presentation of material is clear, logical, and well-researched. However, those looking for a silver bullet as to what caused the meltdown will end up disappointed. There were many contributing factors that could have caused many possible outcomes.
What struck me the most while reading this book is the blatant self denial from everyone who participated. At every stage in the process people from home buyers to bankers seemed to realize what they were doing was either wrong, stupid, or a combination of the two. In short, greed tainted thinking.
As much as I liked the book, there are some faults. First, it’s not really one book but rather three separate books (the mortgage mess, an introduction to value investing, and the presentation of 6 investment ideas). I didn’t read the book for an intro to value investing so was disappointed that only half the book was on the mortgage mess. One other small point, I hate the title -- reading this book at the local coffee shop made me feel like I was reading a “get rich quick book.”
If you’re looking for a great introduction to what happened in the US mortgage market, this book is a must read.
More Mortgage Meltdown: 6 Ways to Profit in These Bad Times, by Whitney Tilson with Glenn Tongue (Wiley, May 2009).