Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge.
Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a pi...more
Checking in with the whiz kids who predicted the Wall Street crash that he wrote about in The Big Short, his excellent look at the latest Wall Street meltdown, Michael Lewis finds that the next big bust will be on the nation-state scale. His construct for analyzing how nations deal with the economic environment of the 21st century is to imagine each of these countries in a dark room in which piles of money were dumped, the easy credit available in the first chu...more
I was chatting to a couple of people the other day who really know finance and suchlike, and they objected that Lewis doesn't get everything right. I can't say whether that's a question of fact or a matter of nuance and opinion. What I can say is that a) nothing he writes clashes with my experience or understandi...more
What I found most fascinating about the story of Iceland was not in the book, but in the comments of a friend who lives there. Because Iceland...more
I bought it for Wilhelm but made the mistake of leaving it lying around and yesterday I did what I said I would not do and started reading it. And couldn't put it down. Fortunately it's short.
In an attempt to figure out what happened to the euro...more
I listened to the Recorded Books edition of this book, and Lewis has a laugh in his v...more
If you’re scratching your head over the financial news from Europe these days and wondering what on earth has been happening in Greece, Ireland, and elsewhere that has everyone, especially the Germans, in a state of panic, Michael Lewis will make it all clear to you with his customary straight talk, humor, and insight. Boomerang — a collection of Lewis’ articles for Vanity Fair on what he calls “financial-disaster t...more
I think my main complaints can be summarized with three observations: 1) This book seemed rushed, and not in-depth; 2) Lewis has demonstrated the ability to simplify complex situations, but in this book he instead relies on over-simplistic cliches; 3) as opposed to explaining and illuminating, he seems to have an axe to grind -- a biased viewpoint he...more
The entertainment value is the strange incompetence and stupidity of people. But it is also depressing. Terrible things are happening to ordinary people. I loved hearing it as an audiobook, educating me while I was doing other things. Reading this as a physical book might be less desirable for me. In the book the author describes himself as a “financial disaster tourist.” He travels to and writes about five are...more
This is a good little short book that goes into how the current financial crisis has gone around the world. It's a collection of stories about the credit bubble madness, going from Iceland, where fishermen suddenly decided they could become hedge fund managers, to Greece, a society where the tax collectors are pulled off the streets completely during an election year a...more
Like, what about how many Irish businesses are locked into contracts that say their rent can only ever incre...more
Lewis is fascinated by the human capacity for...more
How can you find the real causes of the crisis by interviewing ministers of economy, bankers and all the financial elite that got us here?
The result is that Lewis gives trivial answers like "Greeks don't like to pay taxes" or "Germans are credulous". What more can you expect if you ask for example the former fin. minister of Greece who is now one ste...more
Then, like fine cuisine, each nation adds a little something special. According to Michael Lewis, Iceland's contribution was machismo. For the Greeks, it was corruption. The Germans added a pinch of mindless obedience to the order of things. For Ireland, it was... um, alcohol? And America's secret sauce is that the path to living better is paved with debt. (Delayed gratification is for nuns.)
Lewis' wide-eyed, can-you-believe-th...more
The subprime mortgage crisis was more symptom than cause. The deeper social and economic problems that gave rise to it remained. The moment that investors woke up to this reality, they would cease to think of big Western governments as essentially risk-free and demand higher rates of interest to lend to them.
In the end, Icelanders amassed debts amounting to 850 percent of their GDP. (The debt-drowned United States has reached just 350 percent.)
All had experienced the strange and isolating...more
His latest book, Flash Boys, was published on March 31, 2014.