Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Boomerang: Michael Lewis

I just finished up Boomerang by Michael Lewis.   It was a really interesting read (ahem, listen - I did the audio version).  It elaborates on the financial falls in 2008 of Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and California.   It required a basic knowledge and interest in global finance but otherwise Lewis did a good job developing the characters and some personal story lines to keep it from becoming too dry.

The recurring take-away from the book, in my opinion, was really what happens when we let credit get too loose...  Do humans possess a natural ability to "do right".   The answer, according to Lewis, was unfortunately, no, they do not.   Given the opportunity, we will overlook common sense, and allow our greed paired with a general optimism take over.    I thought the way in which Lewis used cultural generalizations to explain what happened in Iceland vs. Ireland and so forth an interesting way of tying in some anthropology into an otherwise financial topic.

In the final paragraphs on the chapter on Greece, Lewis describes an inscription from the ancient Greek orator, Isocrates,  “Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”   Boomerang certainly leaves a reader wondering if in fact we are on a downward descent....