The Big Trouble
Michael Lewis's offers a new, lucid account of some very muddy waters.
I have already, in other places, effused on my high regard both for Lewis’s unerring sense of story, his investigative skills, and clear, concise reportorial prose. But why take my word for it. Read his lively account of his experience (immediately after graduating from Princeton) with Wall Street as the current debacle was just making it into the news cycle.
Which is a fine segue to Lewis’s new opus, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (WW Norton). In what I now take to be a characteristic style, Lewis gazes bemusedly at the most recent example of American financial system dysfunction. He manages to leaven this catastrophe with some humor, chiefly by turning up a small cast of prescient oddballs who actually made big money by understanding and betting on the inevitability of the failure of newly concocted financial instruments. Of course, even the least (financially) sophisticated of our citizens rightfully ask how did the government officials charged with oversight not see what was coming. Lewis’s mordant answer: It took a certain kind of person to see the ugly facts and react to themto discern, in the profile of the beautiful young lady, the face of an old witch.
In case you are in the mood to read some up-to-the-minute commentary on the state of American capitalism, I would offer this trenchant message by Andy Kroll, Ponzi Nation: How Get-Rich-Quick Crime Came to Define an Era.