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How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street [Kindle Edition]

Michael Lewis

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In 1989, Michael Lewis reported on the potential effects of an earthquake in Japan on world financial markets. His insights are once again timely, and they are presented here as a stand-alone essay with a new introduction: “Real Versus Imaginary Japanese Earthquakes.”


In the late 1980s, Japanese scientists were trying to figure out the economic damage that would be caused if a catastrophic earthquake destroyed Tokyo. The answer was bleak, but not for Japan. Kaoru Oda, an economist who worked for Tokai Bank, speculated that the United States would end up paying the most. Why? Japan owned trillions of dollars’ worth of foreign liquid assets and investments. These assets, which the world depended on, would be sold, forcing countries into the precarious position of having to return large amounts of money they might not have. After the recent earthquake, Michael Lewis reexamined this hypothesis and came to a surprising conclusion. With his characteristic sense of humor and wit, Lewis, once again, explains the inner workings of a financial catastrophe.



“How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street” appears in Michael Lewis’s book The Money Culture.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.6 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen not worth reading 9. Januar 2012
Von William T. Anderson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Michael Lewis has written some wonderfully interesting things, but this is not one of them. Many of his statements and assumptions may have been accurate in 1989, when he wrote this, but more than 20 years have passed and the world has changed.

Releasing this outdated excerpt with a different title is pure exploitation, and it damages the author's and Amazon's reputations.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Nice trick to nickel-and-dime $0.89 per reader right after the Japan earthquake. 27. Dezember 2011
Von Amod A. Vaze - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Interesting piece. I think I'm more fascinated by how Amazon could extract 89 cents per download of this chapter from a book written in the 1980's by Michael Lewis. It's not that it's interesting and it gives a nice projection based on Japanese culture however it precedes the creation of the Internet, modern trading systems, and the emerging economies of today so the piece reads as very dated.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Good book! 14. Februar 2013
Von Lee Brian - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Michael Lewis is a great writer, always able to keep the reader intently focused. This book was written many years ago, but is still applicable today, and to many financial or major hubs globally, especially in the more globally connected world that we live in today.

At the same time, the major weather storms/disruptions (how many worst storm/snow/floods/draught in 30+ year reports have we heard about in the past 2-years globally) remind us continually that mother nature rules.
4.0 von 5 Sternen Eye opening! 5. April 2013
Von International-Investors - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Michael Lewis always nails it with his through analysis. Today this article is more relevant then ever.

Recommended reading if you want to understand more about the Japanese economy and how the global financial markets are linked.
7 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen A Work of Fiction 30. Mai 2011
Von R. F. PELAEZ - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I have delighted in several of his books, most recently, The Big Short, which is necessary read for every literate person in the world.

I recently finished the Kindle version of, How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street. The book operates at two levels. The main thesis is that a future earthquake will devastate Tokyo. The financial consequences will wreak havoc on world financial markets. I do not have a problem with that, given the city's history and that it sits atop tectonic plates grinding against each other. There is nothing original or new, thus far. At the second level, Lewis describes the impact on world financial markets of the Tokyo quake of September 1, 1993. My comments concern errors of fact in the narrative.

"On Monday, September 4, the stock markets collapsed. It happened as follows. Western insurance companies made public their exposure to Japan. The numbers exceeded market expectations by tens of billions of dollars. Insurance shares, of course, fell further. But they dragged others with them. The insurance companies hand't nearly enough money invested in Japan to cover their losses. They were forced to liquidate their holdings of American, British, French, German, Italian, and Australian stocks and bonds. The very thought drove the markets down. Speculators piled in, selling short in anticipation of the event. Panicky investors and strapped arbitrageurs sold, too. In fact the Dow Jones Industrials Average nosedived 220 points even before insurance companies began selling." How a Tokyo Earthquake Could Devastate Wall Street. Kindle edition.

A couple of problems with the above are worth noting: one is unimportant; the other is so inconsistent with reality, that it places the work in the fiction class. First, September 4, 1993 was Saturday, not Monday. Second, the U.S. stock and fixed-income markets did not sneeze, let alone collapse on September 1993. The following shows the closing level of the S&P 500 index, and the yields on 10-year Treasury notes, and 3-month Treasury-bill rate, on various days surrounding the quake.

Date S&P 500 10-yr TSY 3-M T-bill
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
August 30, 1993 461.9 5.44% 3.02%
September 3, 1993 461.34 5.31% 2.94%
September 6, 1993 U.S. markets closed
September 15, 1993 461.6 5.39% 2.96%
September 30, 1993 458.93 5.34% 2.92%
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Further, on September 1993, the highest daily closing level for the S&P 500 was 463.15, the lowest was 452.95, and the average was 459.33. Lewis notes that interest rates in the U.S. increased as the Japanese sold U. S. Treasury securities to finance the reconstruction of Tokyo. In fact, one month after the quake interest rates on 10-year Treasury note and on 3-month Treasury bills were slightly lower than before. Overall, September 1993, was an ordinary month for the U.S. stock and bond markets.

Lewis could not possibly have gotten things so wrong. Perhaps, the Kindle version of this book is defective. It would be nice if he would produce a revision of The Big Short, ironing-out some of the rough spots and giving the work greater depth.
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