A kaleidoscopic account of the financial carnage of the pandemic, revealing the fear, grit, and gambles that drove the economy’s winners and losers—from a leading business reporter
“A true masterwork . . . perceptive, well researched, and captivating.”—David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, bestselling author of How to Invest
It was the ultimate test for CEOs, and almost none of them saw it coming. In early March 2020, with the Dow Jones flirting with 30,000, the world’s biggest companies were riding an eleven-year economic high. By the end of the month, millions were out of work, iconic firms were begging for bailouts, and countless small businesses were in freefall. Slick consulting teams and country-club connections were suddenly of little use: Business leaders were fumbling in the dark, tossing out long-term strategy and making decisions on the fly—decisions that, they hoped, might just save them.
In Crash Landing, award-winning business journalist Liz Hoffman shows how the pandemic set the economy on fire—but if you look closely, the tinder was already there. After the global financial crisis in 2008, corporate leaders embraced cheap debt and growth at all costs. Wages flatlined. Millions were pushed into the gig economy. Companies crammed workers into offices, and airlines did the same with planes. Wall Street cheered on this relentless march toward efficiency, overlooking the collateral damage and the risks sowed in the process.
Based on astonishing access inside some of the world’s biggest and most iconic companies, Crash Landing is a kaleidoscopic account of the most remarkable period in modern economic history, revealing—through gripping, fly-on-the-wall reporting—how CEOs battled an economic catastrophe for which there was no playbook: among them, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, blindsided by a virus in the middle of a high-stakes effort to go public; American Airlines’ Doug Parker, shuttling between K Street and the White House, determined to secure a multibillion-dollar bailout; and Ford’s Jim Hackett, as his assembly lines went from building cars to churning out ventilators.
In the tradition of Too Big to Fail and The Big Short, Crash Landing exposes the fear, grit, and gambles behind the pandemic economy, while probing its implications for the future of work, corporate leadership, and capitalism itself, asking: Will this remarkable time give rise to newfound resilience, or become just another costly mistake to be forgotten?
Liz Hoffman is the business and finance editor at Semafor. Previously, she was a senior reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where she covered financial markets, corporate dealmaking, and the machinations of Wall Street. A native of central Pennsylvania, Hoffman graduated from Tufts University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“This book reads like a suspense thriller because that’s what it is, even though every word is true.”—Brian Koppelman, co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer of Showtime’s Billions
“A riveting chronicle of the boardroom brinksmanship.”—Bradley Hope, bestselling author of Billion Dollar Whale
“Liz Hoffman offers something fresh and much needed: an insider tale of what it takes to steer a company—indeed, an economy—through a shock that nobody saw coming. The aspiring C-suite class should take note.”—Harvey Schwartz, former president of Goldman Sachs
“A rare look inside the split-second, high-stakes decisions at the top of America’s corporate giants . . . This book reflects Liz Hoffman’s rare combination of valuable gifts: vivid writing, incredible access and sourcing, and actual insight.”—Mary Childs, bestselling author of The Bond King, co-host of NPR’s Planet Money
“A momentous story told with the urgency of Too Big to Fail and the unforgettable characterizations of The Big Short.”—Brad Stone, bestselling author of Amazon Unbound and The Everything Store
“Those eager to prepare for the next crisis should read this book and heed its lessons.”—Gregory Zuckerman, bestselling author of The Man Who Solved the Market
“Savvy analysis and colorful reportage make this an engrossing boardroom view of an economic cataclysm.”—Publishers Weekly
“A well-informed perspective on a devastating crisis.”—Kirkus Reviews