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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As sharp as always...just left me wanting more.
Michael Lewis has written another highly readable account of the incredible mess we have made of global finance this time turning his attention away from the US towards Europe.

Like many people who study the causes and consequences of the current financial crisis there is the constant question gnawing away as to why some countries acted in the way they did and...
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by James

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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fans of the author will enjoy it
The authors breezy anecdotal style makes for easy reading and this book provides an entertaining overview (of sorts) of notable recently crippled economies. However, it suffers from a "aren't Europeans strange?" slant that will probably grate with European readers and the level of insight is no more than superficial. The chapter dealing with the Germans is just bizarre in...
Published on 22 Oct 2011 by Michael Turley


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As sharp as always...just left me wanting more., 12 Oct 2011
Michael Lewis has written another highly readable account of the incredible mess we have made of global finance this time turning his attention away from the US towards Europe.

Like many people who study the causes and consequences of the current financial crisis there is the constant question gnawing away as to why some countries acted in the way they did and why others didn't. The real pleasure in this book is looking deep into the character of a number of the most affected nations (Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and the US) in order to better understand how they ended up in their resepctive situations. In doing so, he pens very revealing portraits of long held national characteristics that helped me build a picture of how and why these countries ended up where they are now. As with 'The Big Short' it is one of his great skills to take a particular incident or story and to sensibly extrapolate it for a wider meaning. There are no shortage of them here and each is used to great effect.

If I have a small criticism of the book it is that it feels a little slight for such a sweeping subject. At around 200 broadly spaced pages the book can be rattled through in a couple of hours and does leave the reader feeling there's more to be said on this subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the next shoe to drop, 23 Nov 2011
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Another fascinating book from Michael Lewis. A scary prognosis of the future which seems to be unfolding even as we read the financial press day by day. Excellent chapters on Iceland, Greece, Ireland and the US which would be highly amusing if it were not all so serious!! I think Michael gets a bit sidetracked in the chapter on Germany which is a pity. I believe his conclusion however that we have all gotten used to living "too high off the hog" is spot on and does not bode well for the West. We are all going to have to follow the example given of the Californian fire chief if we are ever to get out of this hole we are in.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously fun, 12 Oct 2011
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First the critical point: this is clearly a rewrite of previous articles and to make a very short book longer, Lewis has inserted a part on the US local government which is interesting, but especially the last chapter is pretty irrelevant for the main argument.
And then the positive part: this is really a good and useful book about the financial meltdown in Iceland and Ireland and its European connections. Greece is perhaps too specific, mainly about one case of corruption which tells how far Greece really is from ordinary developed European countries (the main example is a monastery which succeeded in changing a worthless property into extremely profitable land with the help of combined superstition and very high level corruption). But in both Iceland and Ireland, Lewis is very thorough in showing how incompetent and purely amateurish the financial system was an how in both cases the limitless giving of easy credit to people who did not understand anything of real economic activities. Perhaps the most devastating is how the German local banks let themselves to be deceived by Wall Street so that one German banks was the sole buyer of already totally worthless papers emanating from the Wall Street. And these banker were not even motivated by greed and enormous remunerations, only by trust and ignorance. In the final analysis, never trust something which has grown consistently over average for several years. It is a bubble, and bubbles burst. For those who lose their livelihoods, it is not fun, but for those reading about it, Lewis gives quite a lot to laugh about.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fans of the author will enjoy it, 22 Oct 2011
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Michael Turley (Dublin) - See all my reviews
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The authors breezy anecdotal style makes for easy reading and this book provides an entertaining overview (of sorts) of notable recently crippled economies. However, it suffers from a "aren't Europeans strange?" slant that will probably grate with European readers and the level of insight is no more than superficial. The chapter dealing with the Germans is just bizarre in places although it does provide an accessible explanation of what went wrong in some German banks (which could probably be explained in less than 2 pages anyway).

The subject matter is a little scary and has implications for all of us so this is probably a good book for non finance people to read to gain some idea of what's been going on while being entertained at the same time. In summary, if you like the authors other books or would like a light overview of why all these fringe economies are in the news so much then you may enjoy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read, 22 Nov 2011
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Sally Walker (Eastbourne, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an intensely riveting read and everybody should read it.

It tells of monumental greed, arrogance and crass stupidity: beware of arrogant men; men who to a tee when told that the seeming riches that they had created were not sustainable sought to `kill' the messenger; men whose morals and ethical code exist only in the subterranean world. This book will make you angry, angry that so many, literally billions of people, have to suffer because of the greed, arrogance and crass stupidity of so few.

It will also make you sad and dismayed that the human civilisation, (I use that word advisedly) has reached this zenith of undisguised greed and lack of control. We have been fed for too long the mantra of you can have what you want, and if you have not got the latest this, that or the other, then there is something wrong with you and you are a lesser person, although Lewis at no point gives this level of analysis.

We learn that it all began in America in Wall Street, which created the scenario of millions of Americans and western countries being given a pile of money in the dark, as the author puts it. Lewis tells us in an amusing and easy to understand way what Iceland, Greece and Ireland did with their pile of cash and the consequences of their actions. Germany's role in all of this, its enabling role, is laid bare. Whilst Germany has been the chief bailer outer, it would not have found this necessary if it had not acted with so little forethought in purchasing such risky bonds. The Germans, we are told, were so naive that they thought the bonds they were buying from Wall Street were zero risk, completely forgetting that there is no such thing as a riskless asset!

This book is completely of the moment as the consequent chaos continues and the eurozone is reeling, with Greece on the brink and most southern European countries and Ireland sure to follow. The end is not in sight. The fallout will last for decades.

The final chapter of the book gives us perhaps a prediction as to what will happen in some of the EU countries and some American counties where to an extent this process has already begun: a complete breakdown of public services, with the majority of public money being spent on the pensions of previous public sector workers. The final pages give us a possible solution: to wait until our environment regulates us. We wait now with baited breath to find out what form this regulation will take and how painful it is going to be.

Read this book. Gain knowledge and insight.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All the amazing facts with humour too, 7 Nov 2011
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Tellboy (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this investigative piece of journalism which is as up to date as is possible with a book about the current economic crisis.
How it all happened and the various Countries involved and why they became involved makes fascinating reading.
Although being left with the conclusion that there is possibly no solution with lots of future pain yet to come it somehow seemed humourous how various National characteristics allowed it to happen.
The mind boggling numbers are hardly comprehensible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seems a bit mean spirited, 11 Dec 2013
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I really enjoyed the big short. While reading it, I got the impression that Michael Lewis really understood the American Financial system and was able to clearly describe what a CDO and default swap.

As an American expatriate living in Europe, this book made me cringe. The author seems way out of his depth describing the political system in Europe and comes off as extremely arrogant and ignorant.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Alway Look on the Bright Side of Life...", 31 May 2012
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takingadayoff "takingadayoff" (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
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Boomerang is a pretty short book, but you can make it even shorter by just reading the last chapter. In fact, you can read the final chapter in the November 2011 issue of Vanity Fair and just skip the book altogether.

Each chapter, aside from the introduction, is an article from a series Michael Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair magazine. He visited Iceland, Greece, Germany, Ireland, and California to find how they are handling their economic crises. Since the economy is more or less one big worldwide crisis, it's much the same from place to place and Lewis stretches the articles out with lively characters and amusing digressions. It's not that they aren't worth reading, it's that the gist of what Lewis has to say about where we are and where we are heading financially, is summed up best in the final chapter, which is called "Too Fat to Fly."

In that chapter, which appears to be unchanged from the Vanity Fair article, Lewis visited San Jose, a relatively prosperous city, located in California, a state in financial chaos. Even in the heart of Silicon Valley, it's economic doom and gloom. Then Lewis went to Vallejo, a Bay Area town that went bankrupt. Pay attention, because it looks as if we will be seeing more cities going bankrupt before things turn around. An interview with former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is amusing, but not very enlightening.

For the entire book, Lewis finds evidence to show that greed, corruption, and incompetence caused the crisis. No one knows how to solve the problem and many think it will have to get much worse before it somehow gets better. Therefore it's jarring when Lewis ends the book by saying "As idiotic as optimism can sometimes seem, it has a weird habit of paying off." Is anyone else reminded of Eric Idle's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American economic commentator tours Europe after the Financial Crash of the noughties, 15 Jun 2014
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Michael Lewis is an excellent open honest economic commentator who gives a unique slant on how we look from the outside and he has an understanding of economics from the perspective of the trader.

This book reads like a diary written after he had finished his own work on the American financial Bubble and its aftermath, and is informed by his views, which boil down to, this was a crisis waiting to happen, and it was identified by a few savants, who were so contrarian that most people would consider them ingenius or borderline insane.

I am glad that his views on Ireland, Iceland, Greece and Germany are recorded here as these times are rapidly being forgotten by everyone who has lived through them, and we cannot learn from our mistakes if we dismiss the memory.

The style of writing is not great, but the content and the analysis is clear concise and accessible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but, 16 Nov 2012
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Michael Lewis writes well and it was an enjoyable read but a bit disconnected. It was more like a collection of articles, each enjoyable on its own but without a message.
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