The Big Short

by

Michael Lewis

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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 Eisman, Vinny Daniel, Danny Moses, Mike Burry, Ben Hockett, Charlie Ledley, and Jamie Mai. Though his initial meetings and emails almost universally inspire skepticism, the persistent Lippmann is ultimately able to make deals because he offers the chance for real profit and because he’s honest about how he himself will benefit. In the end, all of these people do end up making large amounts of money through deals with Lippmann (with the exception of Mike Burry, who arrived at a similar idea and executed it on his own). More so than any of the other people who profited off of short positions, Lippmann is a self-promoter, and he appears in news articles where his peers are left out. While he has a sleazy manner that sometimes causes people to distrust him, he’s also shrewd: at one point he arranges a meeting in Vegas between Eisman and the incompetent trader Wing Chau, knowing that this is exactly what Eisman needs to realize that Lippmann is offering him a smart deal. Lippmann ends up making a lot of money of the financial crisis and doesn’t seem to feel conflicted about it, as some of the other people in the book do.

Greg Lippmann Quotes in The Big Short

The The Big Short quotes below are all either spoken by Greg Lippmann or refer to Greg Lippmann. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of The Big Short published in 2010.
Chapter 3 Quotes

The least controversial thing to be said about Lippmann was that he was controversial. He wasn’t just a good bond trader, he was a great bond trader. He wasn’t cruel. He wasn’t even rude, at least not intentionally He simply evoked extreme feelings in others. A trader who worked near him for years referred to him as “the asshole known as Greg Lippmann.” When asked why, he said, “He took everything too far.”

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

The argument stopper was Lippmann’s one-man quantitative support team. His name was Eugene Xu, but to those who’d heard Lippmann’s pitch, he was generally spoken of as “Lippmann’s Chinese quant.” Xu was an analyst employed by Deutsche Bank, but Lippmann gave everyone the idea he kept him tied up to his Bloomberg terminal like a pet. A real Chinese guy—not even Chinese American—who apparently spoke no English, just numbers’ China had this national math competition, Lippmann told people, in which Eugene had finished second. In all of China. Eugene Xu was responsible for every piece of hard data in Lippmann’s presentation. Once Eugene was introduced into the equation, no one bothered Lippmann about his math or his data. As Lippmann put it, “How can a guy who can’t speak English lie?”

Related Characters: Michael Lewis (speaker), Greg Lippmann (speaker), Steve Eisman, Vincent Daniel, Daniel Moses , Eugene Xu
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

In his search for stock market investors he might terrify with his Doomsday scenario, Lippmann had made a lucky strike: He had stumbled onto a stock market investor who held an even darker view of the subprime mortgage market than he did. Eisman knew more about that market, its characters, and its depravities than anyone Lippmann had ever spoken with. If anyone would make a dramatic bet against subprime, he thought, it was Eisman—and so he was puzzled when Eisman didn’t do it. He was even more puzzled when, several months later, Eisman’s new head trader, Danny Moses, and his research guy, Vinny Daniels, asked him to come back in to explain it all over again.

Related Symbols: Bonds
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Even as late as the summer of 2006, as home prices began to fall, it took a certain kind of person to see the ugly facts and react to them—to discern, in the profile of the beautiful young lady, the face of an old witch.

Related Characters: Michael Lewis (speaker), Steve Eisman, Greg Lippmann
Related Symbols: Bonds
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

He’d graduated from the University of Rhode Island, earned a business degree at Babson College, and spent most of his career working sleepy jobs at sleepy life insurance companies—but all that was in the past. He was newly, obviously rich. “He had this smirk, like, I know better,” said Danny. Danny didn’t know Wing Chau, but when he heard that he was the end buyer of subprime CDOs, he knew exactly who he was: the sucker. “The truth is that I didn’t really want to talk to him,” said Danny, “because I didn’t want to scare him.”

Related Characters: Michael Lewis (speaker), Daniel Moses (speaker), Steve Eisman, Vincent Daniel, Greg Lippmann, Wing Chau
Related Symbols: Bonds
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

The trouble, as ever, was finding Wall Street firms willing to deal with them. Their one source of supply, Bear Stearns, suddenly seemed more interested in shooting than in trading with them. Every other firm treated them as a joke. Cornhole Capital. But here, in Las Vegas, luck found them.

Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
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Greg Lippmann Character Timeline in The Big Short

The timeline below shows where the character Greg Lippmann appears in The Big Short. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
Pessimism vs. Optimism Theme Icon
Needless Complexity Theme Icon
...in November, Burry gets an email from a subprime trader at Deutsche Bank called Greg Lippmann who is offering to buy a billion dollars in credit default swaps. Burry declines. He... (full context)
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
Pessimism vs. Optimism Theme Icon
Needless Complexity Theme Icon
...big changes and greater regulations. He gets an email from an investor who saw Greg Lippmann the other day: Lippmann was bragging about how he was about to make “oceans” of... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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In February 2006, Greg Lippmann shows up in the conference room of Steve Eisman’s hedge fund, where Vincent Daniel is... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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The crux of Lippmann’s pitch is that, in order for his bet against the subprime bond market to be... (full context)
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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One of Lippmann’s most persuasive arguments is his work with Eugene Xu, a “quant” (meaning a quantitative analyst... (full context)
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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Greg Lippmann watches his peers at Goldman Sachs as they create multibillion-dollar deals where, in exchange for... (full context)
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Lippmann’s bosses ask him to do what Mike Burry is doing, creating as many credit default... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
Lippmann inspires mixed reactions from the people around him, many of whom find him scary and... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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Lippmann decides that the best way to stop pressure from his bosses is to implode the... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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But the people at AIG FP quickly forget their meeting with Lippmann. It’s Gene Park in AIG FP’s Connecticut office who figures out that all the subprime... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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Meanwhile, Lippmann is confused that AIG FP keeps refusing to take his advice. Surprisingly, the subprime market... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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Lippmann’s initial attempts to sell credit defaults are unsuccessful, but ultimately, he meets Steve Eisman. At... (full context)
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Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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Ultimately, Lippmann sells credit default swaps to a different investor, and two pieces of breaking news change... (full context)
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Finally, Eisman makes a deal with Lippmann. He, Danny, and Vinny remain skeptical of the deal, so Vinny and Danny fly down... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Eisman is not alone in investing in investing in credit default swaps. Lippmann pitched them around and got about a hundred interested buyers, although many use them only... (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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...Charlie, and Jamie are excited about being able to buy credit default swaps from Greg Lippmann—even as they remain suspicious that his deal is too good to be true. (full context)
Chapter 6
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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...and Danny go to a dinner hosted by Deutsche Bank—an idea suggested to them by Lippmann. Lippmann has arranged it so that investors who are shorting bonds will be seated at... (full context)
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The dinner seems to go well, but immediately afterwards, Eisman grabs Lippmann, points to Chau and says, “whatever that guy is buying, I want to short it.”... (full context)
Chapter 8
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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...of the people who saw the catastrophe coming and made a profit: it includes Greg Lippmann, but it leaves out Eisman, Danny, Charlie, Jamie, Ben, and Vinny, as well as Burry.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
Wall Street’s Culture of Overconfidence Theme Icon
The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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...credit default swaps, but it’s getting harder because more traders like Mike Burry and Greg Lippmann are buying them. (full context)
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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In early July 2007, Morgan Stanley gets a call from Greg Lippmann at Deutsche Bank: Hubler and his team owe them $1.2 billion, since the credit default... (full context)
Chapter 10
Outsiders vs. Conformists  Theme Icon
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The Problems with Capitalism  Theme Icon
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...and Vinny want to realize their profits and get out—partly because they still don’t trust Lippmann, even though he helped make them richer. (full context)