The Big Short

by

Michael Lewis

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Big Short can help.

Michael Lewis

As the author of The Big Short, Michael Lewis doesn’t simply give an impartial account of the story’s events; he provides commentary and context, sometimes appearing in the story as a character himself. By… read analysis of Michael Lewis

Steve Eisman

Steve Eisman is a former corporate lawyer who quit his job to join his parents’ financial firm, Oppenheimer securities. He quickly makes a name for himself as an analyst by proving that he isn’t afraid… read analysis of Steve Eisman

Vincent Daniel

Vincent “Vinny” Daniel is Eisman’s research guy at the hedge fund FrontPoint Partners and one of his most trusted coworkers. He hits it off with Eisman right away, despite the fact that Eisman comes from… read analysis of Vincent Daniel

Daniel Moses

Daniel “Danny” Moses is Eisman’s head trader at the hedge fund FrontPoint Partners and one of his most trusted coworkers. He knows Eisman because they both used to work at Oppenheimer and Co. (the financial… read analysis of Daniel Moses

Michael Burry

Michael Burry is a former neurosurgeon who became the head of Scion Capital, one of the firms that correctly predicted the financial crash and made money from a short position. Burry received initial funding for… read analysis of Michael Burry
Get the entire The Big Short LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Big Short PDF

Ben Hockett

Ben Hockett is a former trader at Deutsche Bank who works closely with Charlie Ledley and Jamie Mai (of Cornwall Capital) to navigate the financial world from an outsider’s perspective and short the subprime mortgageread analysis of Ben Hockett

Charlie Ledley and Jamie Mai

Charlie Ledley and Jamie Mai are the co-founders of the “garage band” hedge fund Cornwall Capital, which grows from $110,000 in a shed to over a hundred million after the crash. Jamie’s neighbor in Berkeley… read analysis of Charlie Ledley and Jamie Mai

Greg Lippmann

Greg Lippmann is a very self-interested trader at Deutsche Bank whose central role with credit default swaps puts him in contact with many of the other people profiled in the book, including Steve Eismanread analysis of Greg Lippmann

Porter Collins

Porter Collins is an ex-Olympic oarsman and another member of the FrontPoint Partners team with Steve Eisman, Vinny Daniel, and Danny Moses. He is a team player who admired Eisman’s work before… read analysis of Porter Collins

Wing Chau

Wing Chau is one of the guys on the long side of the bets that people like Steve Eisman, Vinny Daniel, Danny Moses, Mike Burry, Ben Hockett, Charlie Ledley, andread analysis of Wing Chau

Eugene Xu

Eugene Xu is a “quant” (a quantitative analyst who uses math and statistics to provide information about investments) who works for Greg Lippman, and who Lippman brings to meetings to convince skeptical potential investors… read analysis of Eugene Xu

Meredith Whitney

Meredith Whitney is a financial analyst who plays a key role in diagnosing the financial crisis by issuing a devastating report about the investment bank Citigroup in October 2007. She credits Steve Eisman for helping… read analysis of Meredith Whitney

John Gutfreund

John Gutfreund used to be Michael Lewis’s boss at Salomon Brothers, and he (inadvertently) helped Lewis launch his career by inspiring his first book, Liar’s Poker. Though Lewis disapproves of many of the… read analysis of John Gutfreund

Joel Greenblatt

Joel Greenblatt is an established investor who has written a well-known book about investing. He takes an interest in the blog of Mike Burry (who has read Greenblatt’s book) and becomes his first investor. Despite… read analysis of Joel Greenblatt

Howie Hubler

Howie Hubler is an employee at Morgan Stanley who makes arguably the worst trade in the history of Wall Street. He takes a long position on the subprime market, which is exactly the opposite of… read analysis of Howie Hubler

Bill Miller

Bill Miller is an investor who is optimistic about Bear Stearns, despite all the warning signs. On the very evening when he’s scheduled to give a positive speech about Bear Stearns (on the same stage… read analysis of Bill Miller

Sy Jacobs

Sy Jacobs is one of the first people to identify the riskiness of the mortgage bond market in the 1990s, along with Steve Eisman. He also went through the same training at Salomon Brothers… read analysis of Sy Jacobs

Joe Cassano

Joe Cassano is one of many incompetent higher-ups in The Big Short who doesn’t realize that his company (in this case, the insurance company AIG) is dangerously exposed to the subprime mortgage market and vulnerable… read analysis of Joe Cassano

Ace Greenberg

Ace Greenberg is the name on all the statements from Bear Stearns that Charlie Ledley and Jamie Mai receive, but they have a hard time reaching him and are only able to get a comically… read analysis of Ace Greenberg

Jim Grant

Jim Grant writes a journal called Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, which is obscure to the general public but well known to Wall Street insiders. He writes an article on CDOs that catches the attention… read analysis of Jim Grant
Minor Characters
Valerie Feigen
Valerie Feigen is the wife of Steve Eisman. She is bewildered and sometimes amused by her husband’s strange behavior, but she ultimately supports him. The tragic death of Feigen and Eisman’s one-year-old son is a major factor that contributes to Eisman’s dark worldview.
John Paulson
John Paulson is an investor who makes tons of money betting against subprime mortgage bonds, which makes the news and catches the attention of Michael Lewis. Later, he is on the list Meredith Whitney gives to Lewis of the people who correctly predicted and bet on the financial crisis.
Gene Park
Gene Park is an employee at the insurance company AIG who notices that the company is dangerously exposed to the subprime mortgage market. Though his concerns will turn out to be valid, he is yelled at by his boss Joe Cassano for even bringing the issue up.
Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. Though Greenspan is intellectual, Eisman in particular views him with contempt and blames him for directly causing the Great Recession through his bad policies.
Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke became chair of the Federal Reserve in 2006 when he was appointed under President George W. Bush. He played a key role in determining the government response to the Great Recession, which Lewis and others criticize.