Friday, March 2, 2012
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis turns his curiosity on the wider world after the financial debacle of 2007 and the success of his book The Big Short . Here he attempts to answer a few questions: How did the crisis unravel overseas, what was the role of European banks, and how did governments and investors deal with the disaster? Then he returns home to America to look at state failures, California specifically, in the aftermath.
I listened to the Recorded Books edition of this book, and Lewis has a laugh in his voice as he reads, and he has chosen to share with us the most ridiculous examples of human credulity, greed, and wanton foolishness one can see anywhere. If one doesn’t laugh, one would have to cry, it is so pitiful. I wonder if voters anywhere will ever have the trust in government now they require to elect someone who can lead properly. The more we know, the more cynical we must become. Look at Greece, for goodness’ sakes. If you only have the faintest idea of what the situation is in Greece, and can’t really grasp why the people are demonstrating with such virulence, Lewis’ take is a helpful primer. Very clearly he tells us what’s going on. When you are done, you will probably wonder how this is going to play out. It surely makes it more interesting to watch the news.
Likewise, listening to recent news of California’s plan for high speed rail has much more depth when one knows what Lewis tells us about the state of California’s finances. It is amazing the state functions at all, and it does give one a bit of a burning sensation in the pit of one’s stomach when one thinks about the U.S. federal deficit. Read this, or better still, listen when you are doing something rote. It is amusing, informative, and makes you wiser.
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