Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  17,941 ratings  ·  1,434 reviews
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
Hardcover, 213 pages
Published October 3rd 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2011)
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The Big Short by Michael LewisToo Big to Fail by Andrew Ross SorkinLiar's Poker by Michael LewisLords of Finance by Liaquat AhamedBoomerang by Michael Lewis
Understanding the Financial Crisis 2008
5th out of 92 books — 142 voters
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisCollapse by Jared DiamondOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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Will Byrnes
UPDATED - July 28, 2013 - at bottom

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
Scott
Lewis’s Boomerang (2011) is a slick read that coasts on its author’s reputation for writing well about others' fiscal knavery and financial stupidity. I usually don’t pick up a book if the author’s name on the cover is twice the size of the book’s title, especially when that title is anything but fresh and intriguing (How many gazillion books are named Boomerang? Do a Goodreads book search and marvel at the results.); but this one came to me on loan from a neighbor who heard I liked to read (ble...more
Nick
I'm loving this. Taken in tandem with Lewis's previous book, The Big Short, it's a hilarious and terrifying explanation of the present financial crisis (ruination, collapse, armageddon?)

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
Mark Rice
In 2004, Wall Street's largest investment banks brought about the beginning of a worldwide financial downturn by creating the credit default swap on the subprime mortgage bond. The events that followed have been widely reported. Once-wealthy nations such as Greece, Ireland, Iceland and Germany accrued gargantuan debts, causing governments, banks and other companies to crumble. In 'Boomerang', Michael Lewis explains the details of how and why this happened, visiting the worst-affected countries a...more
Brent
As a huge Michael Lewis fan, I was a bit disappointed by this book. The concept was neat, but the lack of an overall narrative and the length of the five stories made them somewhat shallow. Even the best of the bunch (the US) won't tell you anything you don't already know.
Mark
Jan 25, 2012 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any banker
Recommended to Mark by: Mark Rice
Shelves: history
To say i am totally p***ed off is to water down my feelings enormously. having just written out a review of this book which took me an hour my computer has chosen to wipe it and, being a total luddite, i have no idea how to retrieve it. As i went along I was removing the clips from the pages which had struck me as provoking, incisive, witty etc. Now i look at a pile of magnetic page markers and a book wholly free of them. Short of wading my way through again I have no way of tracing them. How in...more
Marsha
I am a huge Michael Lewis fan - in fact I wish I could have his job. He writes about money and sports, two subjects I find fascinating. However, Lewis crosses the line with this book, which is a compilation of previously published magazine pieces about the financial crisis as it has played out in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and California. Lewis seems to have reached some sweeping conclusions about the "essential character" of these places, based on spending a couple of weeks there and tal...more
Cheryl
Who knew it could be so enjoyable reading about the financial crisis, explained with examples from several key areas of the world? Fascinating. Iceland, Greece, Ireland, USA -- these are some of the countries in what he calls the New Third World. We have been undone by our ancient lizard nature of greed, where short term satisfaction overwhelms common sense. Hilarious and sobering all at once.
Tim
Michael Lewis has a remarkable gift for giving insight through stories. Each of the five sections of the book was fascinating in a different way: how various countries reacted to having a big pot of seemingly free money on offer, how they responded when things didn't turn out as well as they hoped, and what that says about the national character of each.

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
Mary Ronan Drew
Michael Lewis is the author of the blockbuster Liar's Poker from 20 years ago (soon to be a major motion picture, by the way.) Lewis has recently done a bit of "financial disaster tourism" as he calls it and the results are in his latest book, Boomerang.

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
Trish
Michael Lewis turns his curiosity on the wider world after the financial debacle of 2007 and the success of his book The Big Short . Here he attempts to answer a few questions: How did the crisis unravel overseas, what was the role of European banks, and how did governments and investors deal with the disaster? Then he returns home to America to look at state failures, California specifically, in the aftermath.

I listened to the Recorded Books edition of this book, and Lewis has a laugh in his v...more
Mal Warwick
What goes around, comes around: following the financial meltdown around the world

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
Joe
I've read and enjoyed other books from Lewis -- The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball, Liar's Poker -- but this book was a severe disappointment.

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
David
Some adjectives that describe this collection of essays by Michael Lewis: smart, clear, entertaining, breezy, moderately informative . They are fun to read, and though not heavily researched, probably accurate as far as they go. Each of the five essays collected here first appeared, in slightly different form, in Vanity Fair. Those dealing with foreign economies (Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Germany) appear to be based on visits Lewis made to the countries in question between late 2008 and mid 2011...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
Thanks to an Amazon reviewer (whose review is no longer there), I was able to get this book of previously-published articles via Lexis-Nexis and the Vanity Fair website. I hadn't heard of Michael Lewis until I saw his interview for this book on The Daily Show (yeah, I don't get out much). Anyway, free book in hand, I thoroughly enjoyed his observations about the meltdowns all over Europe, even if I never completely understood WTF it was all about. But if the people "in charge" had no clue what t...more
Abbey
It strikes me as unfair to characterize a whole nation as uptight or reckless or fickle like Lewis does, but maybe it's not so far off the mark. As a whole, Americans take more risks than Japanese. Why is that such a shocking observation? Comparing one Japanese with one American, it may be that the Japanese person is less risk-averse than the individual American; nonetheless, generalities hold true. If this is the case, then the "personalities" of nations could in some way account for the astoni...more
Jane Stewart
4 ½ stars. Wow. This was excellent. I’m very happy to have this eye-opening knowledge.

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
Mark Stevens
"Boomerang" isn't afraid to talk about greed and culture. Michael Lewis swoops down into the world economic crisis with a biting, perplexed tone. If you are in the least bit worried that a book about international finance might teeter on boredom, you're presumptions will be shattered. Lewis helps us see the people and the key decisions in Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Germany that continue to play havoc with the global economy in mid-2013. The chapter on the Greek monks ("And They Invented Math")...more
Sam Quixote
I'm not a big reader of newspapers or watcher of the news, mostly as the news these days is reported as quickly as possible with the barest of facts and, for larger issues like the economic troubles of recent years, almost no understanding of the circumstances for context. That's not to say I'm not interested, but I would only be interested in reading about the financial woes of late through a writer who could write, not as an economist or academic, but a true writer, and could make the subject...more
Jillwilson
Two interesting and intersecting things from the weekend. Towards the end of Boomerang, Michael Lewis quotes Peter Whybrow, a British neuroscientist, who says that dysfunction in American society is a by-product of America’s success. In Whybrow’s book ‘American Mania’ he explores the concept that the human brain has evolved in an environment defined by scarcity – the brain is not designed for abundance. The reptilian core predominates. "When faced with abundance, the brain's ancient reward pathw...more
Dave Lefevre
Just a note... I got an early copy of this. I pre-ordered and it came to my Kindle early. I have no idea why... it just happened.

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
Aaron
After The Big Short, this is a weird book. Lewis almost completely abandons the Napoleonic narrative of history suggested by The Big Short in this one, where both success and disaster, no matter how broadly written, is basically the result of the choices of special people who are able to exploit unique opportunities to create economy shaking results. There’s almost none of that here. Whereas the American crisis seems to be the result of a few very smart people either creating or identifying a ge...more
Kyle
This book was too glib for me. Maybe the shallowness is inevitable when an already shortish book is divided among five different stories. But I felt like Lewis left out some really interesting points that *I* know about, and I'm not a professional financial journalist (although I *have* been to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and California since 2008, just not as a financial disaster tourist).

Like, what about how many Irish businesses are locked into contracts that say their rent can only ever incre...more
Zhiqing
Practically read this in one sitting. Very enlightening and entertaining. I hear about Europe debt crisis and bailouts on the radio all the time but have only the vaguest idea of what has caused countries like Iceland, Greece and Ireland to amass such debt. In this book, Lewis did a good job of explaining the complex issues in simple English. Greece story was particularly shocking. The chapter on the "shit" obssessed German culture was funny as hell. How do Germans feel about having to bail out...more
Joe
Boomerang is a surprisingly entertaining book about the recent economic collapse(s). Author Michael Lewis undertakes what he calls something like a "financial disaster vacation" and visits, in turn, Iceland, Greece, Germany, and ultimately, California. In each locale, he writes about the causes and results of their particular version of economic problems while bitingly satirizing their cultures. The book is pretty enlightening and definitely amusing.
Lewis is fascinated by the human capacity for...more
Neil Pierson
The recipe for a financial debacle is: Ignorance + arrogance + greed.

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
Scott Lupo
Another great book that was recommended to me by Mindy Kittay! If you are turned off by what caused the world-wide economic crash of 2008 because you might not understand it, then read this book. Seriously, in plain English and using understandable metaphors, Lewis chooses a handful of countries to put the global crisis in perspective. The stories from Greece, Iceland, and Ireland are so outrageous that you might think this is fiction. Of course, it is not. You may think other countries are just...more
Stephen
Michael Lewis is one of my favorite non-fiction writers. "Moneyball" was just epic. "The Blindside" was a little smaltzy, but hey, you can't hit a home run every time. "Boomerang" chronicles the effect of the 2008 crash on 5 different countries: Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and the US (CA in particular). Remember that the 2008 crash was fueled by a glut of cheap credit that resulted from central bank policies in most developed countries of driving interests rates down to near 0. The end re...more
Jeremy
Quotes:

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
Erin
Michael Lewis’ “Boomerang” is one of the most frightening books I have ever read. Most frightening, I think, because it is all too true and happening right now.

Lewis travels to Iceland, Greece, Germany, and the United States to discover the causes of the global financial crisis and what, if anything, might be done about it. It is a bit depressing to realize that the main problem we need to overcome is ourselves. The cultures in these countries has greatly contributed to the financial crisis, and...more
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Books Quotes: Boomerang 1 7 Sep 02, 2013 12:32AM  
Isnt there a paperback version? 6 47 Jan 06, 2013 09:02AM  
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Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

His latest book, Flash Boys, was published on March 31, 2014.
More about Michael Lewis...
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game Liar's Poker Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

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“Germans longed to be near shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, is an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis.” 10 likes
“Everywhere you turn you see Americans sacrifice their long-term interests for a short-term reward.” 9 likes
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