April 7, 2010

REVIEW: The Big Short

In his latest book, The Big Short, ex-investment banker Michael Lewis exposes all that I suspected about the financial industry: that it is essentially a bunch of vastly over-paid, type-A 20/30-year-olds greedily gambling away the public's money on bets they don't understand in ways that are not socially productive, safe in the knowledge that should they fail, they will be furnished with a lavish golden parachute and a government bailout. I find something intrinsically parasitic about people who go into a finance career hoping to make names for themselves betting other peoples' money and collecting salaries exponentially greater than the worth of their labors.

The form of the book is a drifting narrative following various real, but unknown players in the financial collapse, illustrating what went wrong and who saw it coming. As the fodder for an eventual movie, it's pretty compelling (see: The Blind Side); and it's a nice and breezy read. As an academic look at the crisis, why it went wrong, and what should be done, Lewis is all platitudes. Missing this key component in a discussion of the financial system leaves an empty story and the reader wanting.

Read it
Skim it
Toss it

No comments:

Post a Comment