At 48mins 31secs ye geezer states that Iceland will drop the kroner in favour of the Euro wrong Iceland is not in the EU It works through Norway and both have trade agreements with the EU Neither are full members.Iceland now wants to be candidate list no financial surprise and Norway strongly doesn t want to be The peoples of Sweden want out but the govt is not keen on the penalty clauses.There have been meetings to consider a nordic block.This man is not the definitive nosiree.Taking in , I have to dump here This is written to make american home policies palatable and is not a reflection of actual events.That patronising bit about Icelanders going down to Wall Street and saying we can do that is not right AT ALL Icelanders had the money x 00000000 and US was skint doh guess who played the bad boy with Icelandic kroner 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 talking to carefully selected people The results are mean spirited caricatures of entire nations Like all caricatures they have an element of truth but are fundamentally distorted The section on California was a little interesting and nuanced, and I agreed with Lewis conclusion about the fact that financial markets are based on extreme self interest and will always find innocent victims if they are not controlled So read this book if you liked The Big Short, but it s not anywhere near as good. The Tsunami Of Cheap Credit That Rolled Across The Planet Between And Was 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 IndulgeIcelanders Wanted To Stop Fishing And Become Investment Bankers The Greeks Wanted To Turn Their Country Into A Pi Ata Stuffed With Cash And Allow As Many Citizens As Possible To Take A Whack At It The Germans Wanted To Be Even German The Irish Wanted To Stop Being IrishMichael Lewis S Investigation Of Bubbles Beyond Our Shores Is So Brilliantly, Sadly Hilarious That It Leads The American Reader To A Comfortable Complacency Oh, Those Foolish Foreigners But When He Turns A Merciless Eye On California And Washington, DC, We See That The Narrative Is A Trap Baited With Humor, And We Understand The Reckoning That Awaits The Greatest And Greediest Of Debtor Nations Michael Lewis is surprisingly racist and politically incorrect in this book For entertainment s sake, he reduces entire nations to cartoon characters, essentially turning the world into the Looney Tunes It s equal parts hilarious and frightening the you learn about the financial future of the global economy, the you start to think of the world in terms of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny.This is less of a story and of a collection of five separate articles about the lead up to the financial crises in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany, and the US It s almost scary how funny it is. 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 is trying to push.Lewis begins by discussing the financial situation in Iceland and it s not bad He gives the absolutely amazing details of the financial run up, and talks with politicians, academics, and economists It s mostly the sort of writing I hoped, and expected, to see But it s not all great even this section, the best in the book, has a lot of fluff and stereotypes for example, Lewis feels it necessary to describe the couple in the next hotel room having sex, and how their Icelandic speech sounds like names from a J.R.R Tolkien fantasy novel Lewis also describes hearing a couple of explosions apparently, part of a trend of insurance fraud perpetrated by many Icelanders who can no longer keep up with the payments on their fancy cars Cute story but one that seems to have completely escaped news sites on the internet.The stereotypes don t end there Greeks are lazy, Irish are simple, Germans are obsessed with order he goes on and on It s insulting, and unnecessary.Finally, I get an impression of bias in this book that I haven t really seen in previous Lewis books Time and again, he tries to push the idea that recent financial problems are really not the fault of banks, but rather were caused by the lazy, greedy, average citizen If there were any justice in the world , Lewis writes, the Greek bankers would be in the streets marching to protest the morals of the ordinary Greek citizen He tries to push the idea that greedy unions have pushed California to the point where it s about to descend into absolute anarchy ignoring the fact that most troubled economies Greece, Portugal run a debt to GDP of around 100%, whereas California has a debt to GDP ratio of less than 10% There are interesting issues there, for sure, but Lewis doesn t even attempt to explore them he talks to a doom and gloom economist that predicted a huge wave of large municipal defaults this year which never happened , goes for a bike ride with Schwarzenegger who talks about how politics is difficult, talks to the mayor of San Jose about labor negotiations, and then finally talks about a city with actual financial problems Vallejo Even there, he doesn t talk about how the economy had to radically transform itself in the mid 90 s after the largest employer the Naval Shipyards was shut down.I know Michael Lewis can do much better than this he has in the past I can only hope his next effort will be up to his usual standards. 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 understanding of what is happening right now and b I suspect that while he may get things wrong, they are things which matter if you already know what a Credit Default Swap is or how you sell a hundred million dollars worth of coffee without ever leaving your office In the broad brush, Lewis s books are an answer to the occasional sense of what the f were those guys up to How in tarnation do you crash your dad s global economy which besets us all when the newspaper headlines and the first item on TV news shows are along the lines of the arse has fallen out of the financial trousers again.You want to know why Iceland tanked Why Italy and Greece are in trouble Why the whole thing is worse than you know You want to laugh while you learn Here s your book. 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 and speaking with key players from both sides of the fence those whose actions caused the damage, and those whose predictions if taken seriously could have prevented it Lewis s snappy prose and incisive wit make this an enjoyable reading experience as well as an educational one In an amusing aside that could be viewed as a prophetic metaphor for Iceland s approaching financial meltdown, Lewis reveals that Alcoa, the biggest aluminium company in Iceland, encountered a problem unique to their nation when, in 2004, it set about erecting a giant smelting plant Iceland s folklore is so all pervasive that many Icelanders believe in hidden people , or, in other words, elves Before Alcoa could build a smelter, it had to pay a government expert to examine the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it One Alcoa spokesman told Lewis that it had been a delicate corporate situation, as the company had been forced to pay hard cash to declare the site elf free, but, as he put it, we couldn t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people Lewis cites a 2001 paper called Boys Will Be Boys Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment , published by MIT Quarterly Journal of Economics, which found that men trade often than women, and from a position of worse judgement The study found that single men trade recklessly than married men, who in turn trade irresponsibly than single women The weaker the female presence, the less rational the approach to financial market trading One of the characteristics common to both Iceland s financial collapse and Wall Street s is the absence of women only one woman occupied a senior position in an Icelandic bank , who weren t given risk taking jobs Interestingly, only one woman had a senior position in Icelandic banking in 2005 The woman in question, Kristin P tursd ttir, quit her job in 2006 to set up a financial services business run entirely by women, as she didn t like the reckless way men were running Icelandic banks Her business is now one of very few profitable financial businesses in Iceland An old man turned up at P tursd ttir s door one morning with his life savings and the proclamation, I m so fed up with this whole system I just want some women to take care of my money Please note that this approach is not foolproof I once tried it with my wife and she spent the lot on cars, designer handbags and shoes She s now my ex wife, for obvious reasons Greece s financial downfall was unique in that it was caused by bankers behaving ethically they did not buy US subprime backed bonds nor did they irredeemably leverage their assets or pay themselves inordinate sums of money The Greek bankers made one fatal mistake they lent 30 billion euros to the Greek government, where it was stolen or squandered Michael Lewis points out that, In Greece the banks didn t sink the country The country sank the banks This reaffirms the increasingly popular belief that entrusting one s money to bankers or politicians is unwisea bit like entrusting one s budgie to a hungry cat Unpaid taxes were another main contributor to Greece s financial troubles No one has ever been punished in Greece for not paying taxes, which is seen as an option rather than a responsibility.Ireland s post millennial boom in property development led to debts that were unsalvageable The Irish banks most notably Anglo Irish Bank lent billions of euros to property developers whose construction activities ran amok, despite there being no influx of buyers for these new properties, until the developers were broke and the banks went bust Germany s financial problems resulted from trying to bail out European countries which were in deep financial trouble In doing so, they behaved in a way that was uncharacteristically unGerman putting other nations financial wellbeing before their own Germany was dragged into financial descent, its downward spiral inextricably linked to the economic fate of the countries that simply couldn t afford to pay back the billions of euros they had borrowed from the Germans.One factor was common to the worst affected countries United States, Greece, Ireland, Iceland and Germany an insistence on burying their heads in the sand and repeatedly proclaiming that all was well, even though their financial foundations were sinking into oblivion In each case, the dissenting voices of a few shrewd observers were hushed or ridiculed, granting the countries a short term facade of financial wellness, but making them look foolish, conceited and financially immature when the truth finally came out and the brown stuff hit the fan Boomerang is an eye opening book which gives the inside scoop on events that have been for the most part covered up Lewis s world tour of financial destruction is an enlightening adventure for the reader He tells his tale with a voice of wisdom, humour and humanity.Well written, immaculately researched and told from a perspective of economic knowledge, Boomerang is a must read book. I puzzled over the title of Michael Lewis s book Boomerang Travels in the New Third World , as the word boomerang does not appear once throughout It confused me until I began to piece together what exactly Lewis was trying to say between the lines.Lewis s books are all about what s between the lines He is all about the subtle extrapolation of meanings and hidden meanings lurking beneath the subject matter In his wonderful book, Moneyball , which was ostensibly about baseball and the economics of the game, Lewis was actually writing about innovative and revolutionary thinking, and how our culture discourages, demeans, and tries to destroy new ways of doing things, even when and especially when those new ways are efficient and productive Boomerang is Lewis s follow up to his book, The Big Short , which was about the 2008 U.S financial disaster, following the collapse of the housing market bubble that nearly wiped out several huge banks The federal government stepped in with a huge bailout of taxpayer money, thinking that they stopped the hemorrhaging and saved the patient For all intents and purposes, they did Lewis, however, wonders if, maybe, it was a temporary fix and a harbinger of worse things to come Because Lewis, who has a propensity for finding people with keener perceptions than most humans, actually listens to those people spouting gloom and doom prophecies, especially when nobody else is listening, and especially when those prophetic loners have a track record of being correct.One of those prophetic loners is Kyle Bass, a hedge fund manager from Texas In 2006, he clearly saw what apparently no one else on Wall Street saw or, likely, wanted to see When he tried to warn everybody of the impending subprime mortgage crisis, he was laughed or thrown out of offices and buildings So, he did what only a select few in the know including the guys in The Big Short could do in the situation bet against the market He literally made billions while hundreds of thousands of other investors and banks lost billions.After 2008, though, Bass did research and began to realize that nothing was actually fixed after the crisis Wall Streeters, politicians, and economists were still doing and encouraging the same stupid behaviors that got them into the mess in the first place The subprime mortgage crisis was, according to Bass, not the cause of the 08 debacle but merely a symptom of a much bigger problem.Bass predicted that the next financial crisis was going to be bigger and it was going to be global.Thus, Boomerang is Lewis s attempt to investigate the root cause of these financial crises.Reading, at times, like a humorous travelogue than an in depth investigative report, Boomerang follows Lewis to Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and then the state of California all locations that have, since 2008, suffered their own financial crises.What Lewis learns, in a nutshell, is that each unique culture based on a combination of racial, national, and regional idiosyncrasies contributed to their own unique problems as well as to how they dealt with it This is why Greeks most of whom, statistically, refuse to pay taxes because the government doesn t enforce the law anyway violently protested the government s attempts to use taxpayer money to pay back debts, while most Germans willfully and graciously encouraged their government to use their money to pay debts.In most cases, Lewis discovers something that isn t that shocking a majority of human beings want their governments to offer basic services, but they don t want to have to pay for them.It s a paradox that each culture on Earth deals with in a myriad of weird, shocking ways Weird in the fact that sometimes the attempts at cheating the system seems to actually work Shocking in that, in most cases, people are mystified and outraged when those attempts eventually backfire.Essentially, Lewis is saying that people are stupid.In a nicer way, Lewis makes the point that almost all humans lack the ability to see the consequences of their own actions, even when those consequences are the only possible consequences to those actions.Like a boomerang, humanity s capacity for enormous greed and self interest will inevitably, and horribly, come back to kick us in the ass. European Economies Collapse Under Collective Weight of Icelandic Elves, German Schei e, Self Hating Greeks, Suspicious Irish Enlightening and Entertaining Background from 2012 on Topics underlying Brexit and Francofuir Lolleep pp Guild, Controlling Significant Portion of Iceland s EconomyI ve been entertained and enlightened by every Michael Lewis book I ve read, including Moneyball The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, which explores Major League Baseball s use of quantum mathematics, The Blind Side Evolution of a Game, the heightened value of a left tackle in the National Football League, the stock market and financial shorting The Big Short and Flash Boys A Wall Street Revolt This was no exception Lewis has the uncanny, creative ability to explain in clear and simple terms subjects that are complex or seem otherwise mundane Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication This ability along with his mordant wit renders otherwise uninteresting topics compelling to the average reader I read this a couple of years ago, after Greek citizens soundly rejected the terms of a proposed 2d bailout agreement The book is an excellent aid to understanding the basic root causes of the economic catastrophes in Greece, Iceland and Ireland, Germany s role in European collapse, as well as giving a view in the U.S of California s economic and political climate.To give a sampling of quotes from the book to show Lewis ability to offer the intriguing with wit Iceland One problem encountered by Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant was the so called hidden people or, to put it plainly, elves in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf free Germany Lewis notes the Germans obsession with schei e pronounced scheisse , as a way to explain that country s role in the global debt collapse Germans longed to be near schei e , but not in it This, as it turns out, is an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a Purgation Calendar noting also the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings As the fish lives in water, so does the schei e stick to the asshole , to select but one of the seemingly endless examples Another is you are just as dirty as toilet paper Greece Individual Greeks are delightful funny, warm, smart, and good company I left two dozen interviews saying What great people They do not share the sentiment about one another the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate And this total absence of faith in one another is self reinforcing The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible the collapse of civic life only encourages lying, cheating, and stealing Ireland The Irish people and their country are like lovers whose passion is heightened by their suspicion that they will probably wind up leaving each other I highly recommend this book for both delight and enlightenment. 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 bless his heart , and I felt obligated to look through it What I found was a fast, entertaining romp through post bubble Europe part travelogue, part chamber of horrors that to my surprise, took pride of place among a tall stack of ghoulish Halloween reads teetering on my nightstand.Lewis s latest book is a cartoonish discussion of what happens to a society after it has been presented with almost unlimited credit, as many Western countries were between 2002 and 2008 Last Spring Lewis visited some of the Eurozone s fringe states Iceland, Ireland, Greece who drank far too deeply from the proffered cup and now are tottering on the edge of insolvency The result of his journey, this snarky read, is sort of a Ripley s Believe It or Notof economic and social shortcomings The book isn t long on explanations, and Lewis s caricatures and stereotypes of supposed national traits are crafted to shock and offend in a way that has become fashionable with modern broadcast journalism Look to be entertained first and enlightened only by accident.Its anecdotal explanations aren t limited to little countries in Europe, though The final chapter hints at what may be about to happen to several cities in the United State which have been squeezed nearly out of existence by the same forces that have bankrupted parts of the Old World Like most good journalism, Lewis s book is illustrated with intriguing trivia that at least flirts with logic and scatalogic Parts of the book are distasteful, but there are enough bizarre figures and non sequiturs to satisfy most readers appetite for the absurd My favorite tidbit A color coded map of American personal indebtedness could be laid on top of the Centers for Disease Control s color coded map that illustrates the fantastic rise in rates of obesity across the United States since 1985 without disturbing the general pattern.If you take a big swig of the Daily Show along with your viewing of the Nightly Business Report, you ll love Boomerang.y
Michael Lewis, the best selling author of Liars 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.
- 213 pages
- Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
- Michael Lewis
- 11 August 2018 Michael Lewis