Back in 2006, hunched over spreadsheets, hedge fund titan John Paulson realised that the housing market was vastly overstretched. Fuelled by sub-prime mortgages, it was a classic bubble ready to burst. He had waited his whole life for this perfect trade.Paulson, who had never dealt in real-estate before, struggled to convince bullish Wall Street investors about the coming crash. But as house prices began to falter and the financial system collapsed, he reaped the rewards. He made a now-legendary series of trades, executed with technical skill and perfect timing.The results were spectacular. In a single morning in late 2007 Paulson made $1.25bn from a five-point fall in the markets. Across the year he earned $15 billion for his fund, including $4 billion for himself - more than the incomes of J.K Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods put together. It was the largest trading windfall in history by far, securing his place in the history books alongside Warren Buffet and George Soros.Written with the exclusive co-operation of the highly secretive Paulson, The Greatest Trade Ever tells the full story of his trade for the first time. Like Barbarians at the Gate 20 years ago, it also tells a wider story of staggering wealth accumulation, hubris and financial whizzery. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the inner workings of the markets - and trying to spot the next bubble.
Gregory Zuckerman is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal where he pens the 'Heard on the Street' column. He appears on CNBC-TV twice a week to explain complex trades. His team has won the New York Press Club Journalism Award and the Gerald Loeb Award for their coverage of the credit crisis.