If you read only one book about the causes of the recent financial crisis, let it be Michael Lewis's, "The Big Short."
That's not because Lewis has put together the most comprehensive or authoritative analysis of all the misdeeds and misjudgments and missed signals that led to the biggest credit bubble the world has known. What makes his account so accessible is that he tells it through the eyes of the managers of three small hedge funds and a Deutsche Bank bond salesman, none of whom you've ever heard of. All, however, were among the first to see the folly and fraud behind the subprime fiasco, and to find ways to bet against it when everyone else thought them crazy.
Nor would anyone -- including Lewis, I'm sure -- claim this is an even-handed history that reflects the differing views of investment bankers, rating-agency analysts and industry analysts, all of whom he holds up to ridicule for their arrogance, their cynicism and their relentless incompetence.
In many ways, this is the same smart-alecky Michael Lewis who brilliantly exposed and skewered the ways of Wall Street 20 years ago in "Liar's Poker," written when he was fresh out of the training program at the once-mighty but now forgotten Salomon Brothers. But as he says in his introduction, those days of $3 million salaries and $250 million trading losses look almost quaint compared with the sums made and lost by the most recent generation of Wall Street fraudsters and buffoons.
What's so delightful about Lewis's writing is how deftly he explains and demystifies how things really work on Wall Street, even while creating a compelling narrative and introducing us to a cast of fascinating, all-too-human characters.
“Lewis is an extraordinary writer, and the people and stories he brings to life here had me as engrossed as I would be by a top-notch novel (I shocked someone on the plane this morning by doubling over with laughter at one particularly wild scene). But he's also a great explainer, and the story that he spins here turns the opaque markets into something that make a certain twisted sense -- something that's helped by his clear delineation of the parts that simply didn't make sense, the parts that were just bullshit, and designed to make you feel stupid.”
Cory Doctorow, Michael Lewis's THE BIG SHORT, visiting the econopocalypse through the lens of LIAR'S POKER
Michael Monroe Lewis (born October 15, 1960) is an American non-fiction author and financial journalist. His bestselling books include The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Panic, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood and Boomerang. He has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 2009.
Lewis was born in New Orleans to corporate lawyer J. Thomas Lewis and community activist Diana Monroe Lewis. He attended the college preparatory Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. He attended Princeton University where he received a BA degree (cum laude) in Art History in 1982 and was a member of the Ivy Club.
He went on to work with New York art dealer Daniel Wildenstein. He enrolled in the London School of Economics, and received his MA degree in Economics in 1985. Lewis was hired by Salomon Brothers and moved to New York for their training program. He worked at their London office as a bond salesman. He resigned to write Liar's Poker and become a financial journalist.