Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boomerang by Michael Lewis - My take on the book

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Michael Lewis is an interesting writer and i have read his books Liar's Poker and The Big Short. These were easy to read and informative too. In Boomerang, he travels to five countries and writes about the present state of economic crisis and how those countries got into it. He does all this, to his credit, in his easy and readable style. 

Michael Lewis does try to give a certain perspective/insight in to the problems/issues facing these countries. It is one big problem of cheap credit and over borrowing all over and he brings in the individual national character while trying to provide the insight.  I should say that he does succeed to a certain, albeit,  very small extent. But  in the process ends up stereotyping every nation. But considering the nature of the problem, he has gone overboard with his stereo type thing if you ask me, and sounds very childish too, as in the case of Germany.

He doesn't have a solution as such to the problems all these countries including the US, are facing. While it is too much to expect a book of this nature to provide any solution to the present economic issues facing the world, Michael Lewis actually ends up confusing the reader in the below paragraph.

"When people pile up debts they will find difficult and perhaps even impossible to repay, they are saying several things at once. They are obviously saying that they want more than they can immediately afford. They are saying, less obviously, that their present wants are so important that, to satisfy them, it is worth some future difficulty. But in making that bargain they are implying that, when the future difficulty arrives, they’ll figure it out. They don’t always do that. But you can never rule out the possibility that they will. As idiotic as optimism can sometimes seem, it has a weird habit of paying off." 


Is the author  telling his readers to be optimistic since optimism has a weird habit of paying off? I am not sure. Reading this book is like eating fast food. Tastes good while it lasts, but provides no real nourishment. 


In short, i am disappointed with this book. Borrow and read, if you have to or read it on the net as Vanity Fair articles. but don't buy it.  Hint: The chapters are all available online, if you search for it. 

2 comments:

  1. My theory is any economic crisis is due to GREED either by a group or a power individual, why write a book about it and why read it?

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  2. Vasudevan, thanks for your comment. While there is an element of truth in it, i would say that it is oversimplification to say that all economic crisis is due to greed.

    While one can obviously not do anything about human greed per se, one can ensure that the factors which resulted in humans acting greedily can be brought under control. that is why it is important to study these economic crisis. :)

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