Hey Michael Lewis! In A Book Titled Boomerang, Shouldn't You Visit Australia?
In his new book Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis is more cavalier with is opinions than he was in his last book, the longer and denser The Big Short . . . Boomerang is more of a travelogue with some finance thrown in, and at times you get the feel that he's winging it, relying on his good name in each country, but he's an engaging writer and the book is a lot of fun-- considering it's about a depressing topic-- because for each country he visits, he tries to link their national character to the type of financial disaster they are experiencing: corrupt and tribal Greeks refuse to band together for the sake of their country; feral Icelanders treat high-risk banking the same way they treat fishing in the cold and dangerous waters of the North Atlantic; stoic Irishmen shoulder their country's debt with tight-lipped penitence, though they should have acted shamefully and defaulted; rule abiding Germans don't notice the filth under the sheen of the bonds they have bought (and here he takes a scatological side-trip into "the German's longstanding special interest" in "Scheisse (shit)" and tries to extend the analogy to the financial crisis, claiming that the Germans "longed to be near the shit but not in it," and although this is entertaining, I think his logic is stretched thin and that you could find loads of "Scheisse" jokes in every culture-- Mr. Lahey from Trailer Park Boys comes to mind-- so even Canadians stoop to this sort of humor); finally Lewis ends up in America, searching for the state that is the biggest financial disaster . . . and banking analyst Meredith Whitney determines this by invoking the logic of "the tragedy of the commons," she explains: "companies are more likely to flourish in stronger states; the individuals will go where the jobs are . . . ultimately, the people will follow the companies . . . Indiana is going to be like, NFW I'm bailing out New Jersey . . . those who have money and can move do so, and those without money and cannot move do not, and ultimately rely more on state and local assistance," and Lewis asks her, "What's the scariest state?" and I hoped her answer wouldn't be New Jersey, but she "only had to think for about two seconds" and then she said, "California."