Taking down Michael Lewis

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Michael Lewis has amassed quite a reputation on the back of his 2010 book The Big Short. I remember reading the book and listening to coverage on shows like This American Life’s The Giant Pool of Money in 2010 to try and understand the financial crisis. This piece, however, has a lot to say about what Lewis missed in his book.

 

Lewis’ desire to satisfy his fan base’s craving for good guys led him to miss the most important story of our age: how a small number of operators used a nexus of astonishing leverage and camouflaged risk to bring the world financial system to its knees and miraculously walked away with their winnings. These players are not the ugly ducklings of Lewis’ fairy tale; they are merely ugly. Whether for his own profit or by accident, Lewis has denied the public the truth.

 

I can certainly understand the argument that Lewis was writing for a different audience (as perhaps Ezra Klein was in this piece, which was also rebuked) but I think after a cursory understanding is established, these kinds of nuanced complications are absolutely necessary for better policy building and informed decision making (including personal voting behavior) in the future.

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