Living in New Orleans, it is gratifying to see one of its native sons do well. With the Saints winning the Super Bowl this year behind quarterback Drew Brees and now author Michael Lewis sharing his recent book, The Big Short, Inside the Doomsday Machine, an expose on the recent global financial crisis, there is a lot to be proud of in the "Big Easy".
In the case of Lewis, once you start you can't put down the "Big Short". More than that, while reading it, you can't imagine the story could be true; but it is. More than just a recount of facts about the financial crisis and what happened during the past decade, the book is a deeply human story about a small group of people and what they faced with clear minds amid a group of lunatics.
Read Felix Salmon's review on the Barnes and Noble site, here is an exerpt:
The result is that rarest of beasts in a world drowning in financial-crisis books: a new book which actually breaks news. For instance, Lewis uncovers what could possibly be the single greatest trade that any Wall Street banker ever made: in December 2006 and January 2007, Deutsche's Greg Lippmann paid an insurance premium of 0.28 percentage points to take out insurance on $4 billion of triple-A-rated bonds from Morgan Stanley's Howie Hubler. Less than a year later, that $11 million bet paid off to the tune of a whopping $3.7 billion. I'll save you the math: that's an annual return of more than 33,000%. There's lots more where that came from: this is an assiduously-reported and beautifully-written book. There aren't many reasons to be happy about the global financial crisis, but here's one: that it brought Michael Lewis back to his roots, to produce what is probably the single best piece of financial journalism ever written.
The story illustrates how institutions run by experienced people with a lot of knowledge can fail, quickly and dramatically. What happened in the financial markets can and will increasingly occur in many industries, as leadership becomes disconnected from the day to day realities being impacted by rapid advancements and change.
Watch the recent interview on Charlie Rose where Lewis shares more details and views. Get the book and remember that when everyone thinks they know the facts sometimes they don't.