The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more 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 indulge.
Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a pinata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.
Michael 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. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This book was hilarious, insightful and asks a lot of the questions that the average person would about our most recent economic crisis. It paints a realistic picture of where we are financially, but does not attempt to draw large conclusions. If I have a complaint, it’s that Lewis describes the situation, but does not try to make any recommendations for the future.
That does not, however, diminish how interesting or revealing the examples are. I’d highly recommend this one to anyone asking, “How did we end up here?” The answers will not make you happy, but at least you’ll get a sense of what’s going on. This was one that I listened to and I’d highly recommend that version!
Warning: Repeated use of profanity.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Folks interested in understanding some of the high-level root causes of the economic crisis internationally.