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Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour Hardcover – 6 Oct 2011
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Fascinating...the book could not be more timely...a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today's headlines (Michiko Kakutani New York Times )
Michael Lewis's bravura journey through Europe's economic underbelly brilliantly charts the consequences of a world plagued by debt...highly enjoyable...nicely politically incorrect, often very funny, and shot through with genuine insight (Robert Harris Sunday Times )
Brilliant ... he has a novelist's gift (Spectator, Books of the Year )
Lewis' investigation of bubbles across Europe is brilliantly, sadly hiliarious (GQ magazine )
He writes with the wit and observational eye of a travel writer (Richard Fitzpatrick Irish Examiner )
He writes quite brilliantly and understands the complex financial matters whereof he speaks. As polemical prose goes, it is hard to beat (Howard Davies Management Today )
Lewis is the finest storyteller of our generation (Malcolm Gladwell )
He is so good everyone else may as well pack up (Evening Standard )
Michael Lewis meets some extraordinary characters in his excursion through the barely controlled madness that is modern finance ... lucid, entertaining (Tony Barber Financial Times )
About the Author
Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar's 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, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.
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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.
This book is eye-opening and convenient as details of the banks of all the larger national economies of the world are covered in it and I will probably read it again in a few years time to see how history settles; many of the stories in the book were ongoing when the book went to press. Many, at the time of writing this review, still are (it is VERY up to date).
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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