Past market crashes have produced their share of bankers who turned to writing for solace, fame and preferably, another fortune. So it seems with this one too.
Tetsuya Ishikawa, the son of a successful Japanese expatriate, structured and syndicated mortgage-backed securities for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in the heady boom days of the mid-zeros. After totting up a seven-figure salary before his thirtieth birthday, Ishikawa was laid off unceremoniously along with several other hundred thousand bankers last year.
Now, he's written a book about it all. Titled How I Caused The Credit Crunch, Ishikawa's book closely resembles epic banking tales such as Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker and Frank Partnoy's Fiasco. There's only one difference: it's lightly fictionalized.
The new genre Ishikawa elected to write his book follows a less sensational release last year. Cityboy, by Geraint Anderson, is another, albeit less technical biographical "novel" by an ex-broker who worked in London's "square mile" during the same period -- the British equivalent of Wall Street.
In today's world of trigger-happy legal injunctions, naming and shaming the bankers who blew up the global financial system is just too risky, explains Ishikawa.
That's unfortunate, because the more we know about who did what and why, the closer we get to being able to correct future problems. That point is especially true the more sophisticated that financial products become.
Still, a la Lewis, Ishikawa does a great job of explaining exactly how the credit crunch happened, and simplifies the vast range of mind-boggling derivatives products in a way that a high-school kid could understand.
How I Caused The Credit Crunch was released to much fanfare in Canada last week after it hit the bestseller list in Britain, where the banker-turned-author lives with his wife and two children. Here's one reliable prediction: you can bet that it won't be the last of the biographies detailing the meltdown to do so.