The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine By: Michael Lewis
From the author of The Blind Side and Moneyball, The Big Short tells the story of four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predict the credit and housing bubble collapse before anyone else. The film adaptation by Adam McKay (Anchorman I and II, The Other Guys) features Academy Award® winners Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei; Academy Award® nominees Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling. When the crash of the U.S. stock market became public knowledge in the fall of 2008, it was already old news. The real crash, the silent crash, had taken place over the previous year, in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn’t shine and the SEC doesn’t dare, or bother, to tread. Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages? In this fitting sequel to Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis answers that question in a narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor.
I think it actually helped that I’d watched the movie first. This is an incredibly complicated topic and I have very little experience in trading and bonds and all that stuff, but it helped being able to picture actors whenever someone’s name was mentioned and I was able to keep everyone straight because of it.
The book is as infuriating as the movie, maybe more so because it does go into a lot more detail and I couldn’t help wanting to scream at people for being so stupid. It’s frustrating, especially when it feels like nothing was learned from the crisis, but you can’t fault the book for that.
Lewis didn’t quiet make a complicated topic easy to understand but he did make the story very interesting and about as easy as it was ever going to be to read. I’m not sure how much I learned, though I definitely know more now then going in, but I doubt I retained more than 60%. I liked his writing style and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.