Boomerang

Boomerang

Travels in the New Third World

Book - 2011 | First edition.
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The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge.Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a pinata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.Michael Lewis's investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American reader to a comfortable complacency: oh, those foolish foreigners. But when he turns a merciless eye on California and Washington, DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2011]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9780393081817
Branch Call Number: 330.90511 LEW
Characteristics: xxi, 213 pages ;,22 cm

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2012


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t
tirjan
Feb 26, 2017

An journey by Michael Lewis to explore the financial fallout of the Great Recession in various locales. First to Iceland, then to Greece, Ireland, Germany and finally to the Bay Area. He meets with bankers, politicians, academics and regular used-to-be workers to try to explain how the Wall Street shenanigans and US home buyers naivety created shock waves around the Western world to change people's lives and fortunes permanently.
The economic misery caused by the 2008-2009 crash affected the different countries differently and to varying degrees. Lewis investigates why this is so.
A very good, though dated, read. My fault. Should have read it a long time ago. Can the crash happen again? Maybe not in exactly the same way but, yes, you get the idea that Wall Street - being totally unpunished - will create some other get-rich scheme with other people's money and cause another one.

j
jodfong
Feb 16, 2017

A very easy read. You'll have a blast backpacking with Michael Lewis around Europe as he looks back at the financial crisis and how it played a key role in 5 European economies. Moreover, he'll show you how each account is intertwined with the global history of the crisis. The book can easily be read in 3-5 sittings.

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Ethan_Annis
Jul 13, 2016

Economies are built to a large extent on faith, including a belief that countries will pay back their loans in full. What happens when a government borrows recklessly or makes promises that cannot be kept in any reasonable foreseeable circumstances? According to Michael Lewis various countries and the State of California have borrowed recklessly. In Boomerang, Lewis describes these governments and how the system broke down when lenders stopped vetting borrowers.

Today’s headlines often include problems with the Greek Debt Crisis, the California Budget and the Irish Debt crisis. Lewis explains the circumstances that led to these crises and describes the potential outcomes of governments over-borrowing. The book’s main weakness, in my opinion, is the chapter on Germany, in which Lewis attempts to explain the lender’s perspective by using a scatological argument. The chapter certainly is amusing but I didn’t find it compelling.

This is an excellent book to read with Michael Lewis’ book The Big Short, which describes another part of the same financial problems of 2008 and beyond. In addition to containing solid reporting and clear explanations of complex financial instruments, both books are also immensely entertaining.

b
beth_klassen
Jul 02, 2016

Good book

s
StarGladiator
Oct 14, 2014

If you don't want your illusions and delusions shattered and continue to live in la la land, instead of entering the land of reality, you read Michael Lewis. If you are interested in the truth, you read Matt Taibbi, Pam Martens, Nomi Prins, Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman and Michael Parenti. A simple choice.

n
no2squaredrive
Oct 14, 2014

What is it that drives our economic systems' cycles of boom and bust ? Mr. Lewis doesn't explicitly say, but analyses several countries recent troubles and shows how quirks and habits of individuals build-up to mass delusions and a national herd mentality. This leads to blindness to risk and over optimism. (After years of good times, our caution seems to go to sleep while our greed leads us on.) And there are different flavors in different countries. At least that's what I've gotten out of it after a quick read. It's worth a second read, and then other conclusions may be found.

redban Oct 03, 2014

Please, please, read Matt Taibbi's book Griftopia, then come back and evaluate Michael Lewis' narrative.

This book was indeed a fun read, but the more I reflect on it the more disgusted I get. This is Michael Lewis at his worst, as least The Big Short and Flash Boys offered some insight amidst all the re-framing and omissions! Yes, it's fun to be an amateur pseudo-sociologist and chuckle at different cultural behaviors. However, when we are talking about Economics, we must consider magnitude, who controls the money, and who profits the most. The first place to examine is banking.

Last time I checked it was systemic Wall Street fraud that caused the 2008 financial crisis; this was a top-down scam which is why the money all funnelled to the top through profits from predatory fraud, bailouts, and executive bonuses while everyone else suffered through the actual Recession. Please follow the money! It was all started and controlled by the big banks, like Goldman Sachs, who successfully lobbied the Federal Reserve to give these banks the power to churn out ever-more-complex-and-risky fraud investment instruments that these banks later sold to everyone else, laying all the risk to the taxpayers since the big banks have the Feds in their pockets and can negotiate taxpayer bailouts when their scams collapse.

THAT is Economics, or what's left of it underneath the propaganda. With that in mind, wouldn't it be prudent to examine the big banks' role with Greece? Say... Goldman Sachs? Goldman Sachs providing short-term profit to Greek politicians in return for Greek taxpayer/infrastructure wealth? (Where else have we heard that story?). Once again, who profited the most, and who was in control?

How difficult is it to follow the money? Apparently, Michael Lewis can write an entire Economics book while omitting the obvious.

k
Khrushchev
Jan 17, 2013

A fun romp through the economics of countries newly introduced to the woes of a downturn. Lewis explains the reasons behind each one's individual reasons for collapse quite well (though you would probably need at least some prior knowledge of economics to gain the full enjoyment this book offers). Well researched, well written, well done Michael Lewis.

a
Ahmed_Selim
Sep 02, 2012

This book is better than I expected. I finished it from cover to cover in two days.

s
scathing_haiku
Sep 01, 2012

At least Vallejo / can boast to builders that they / need not search for elves

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jimg2000
Oct 17, 2015

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.
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As it happens, a story had just broken that a German reinsurance company called Munich Re, back in June 2007, or just before the crash, had sponsored a party for its best producers that offered not just chicken dinners and nearest-to-the-pin golf competitions but a blowout with prostitutes in a public bath. In finance, high or low, this sort of thing is of course not unusual. What was striking was how organized the German event was. The company tied white and yellow and red ribbons to the prostitutes to indicate which ones were available to which men. After each sexual encounter the prostitute received a stamp on her arm to indicate how often she had been used. The Germans didn’t just want hookers: they wanted hookers with rules.

j
jimg2000
Oct 17, 2015

In 1980 only 23 percent of state pension money had been invested in the stock market; by 2008 the number had risen to 60 percent.
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Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was buy Ireland. From each other.
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Thousands upon thousands of government employees take to the streets to protest the bill. Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies.

j
jimg2000
Oct 17, 2015

The politicians in Ireland speak Gaelic the way the Real Housewives of Orange County speak French.
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Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called hidden people—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free, but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.

j
jimg2000
Oct 17, 2015

The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis. San Jose has the highest per capita income of any city in the United States, after New York. It has the highest credit rating of any city in California with a population over 250,000. It is one of the few cities in America with a triple-A rating from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, but only because its bondholders have the power to compel the city to levy a tax on property owners to pay off the bonds. The city itself is not all that far from being bankrupt

j
jimg2000
Oct 17, 2015

The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as "arduous" is as early as fifty-five for men and fifty for women. As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than six hundred Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, writers, musicians, and on and on and on.
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Two things strike an American when he comes to Ireland: how small it is, and how tight-lipped. An Irish person with a personal problem takes it into a hole with him, like a squirrel with a nut before winter. He tortures himself and sometimes his loved ones, too. What he doesn’t do, if he has suffered some reversal, is vent about it to the outside world. The famous Irish gift of gab is a cover for all the things they aren’t telling you.

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b
beth_klassen
Jul 02, 2016

Different countries reactions to the economic crash of 2008

e
elinpat
Apr 24, 2012

Hilarious account of what went wrong in Europe in those countries so badly in debt. Also a pretty solid summary of how things transpird.

AnneDromeda Mar 08, 2012

A while back, I reviewed a Michael Lewis book called *The Big Short*, all about the personalities and events that built the Great Recession. In the time it took to write and release that book, Lewis stumbled across a few shrewd financiers who were predicting a global crash based on the same kind of accounting principles that shook America. Lewis initially dismissed these characters as people who'd gotten lucky predicting one crash, and now thought they had a talent for predicting crises. But, by the time he was promoting *The Big Short*, Iceland and Greece were deep in trouble, and Lewis knew there was more to the story.<br />

*Boomerang*, then, is all about how the American banking system's creative approach to credit tranching spread round the world. Again, Lewis takes the time to introduce readers to the characters making the big financial decisions. He makes some broad and questionable arguments extending generalized national character traits (Icelandic, Greek, Irish, German) to their money management techniques, but the effect is meant to be humorous and it is. In fact, the whole book's tone is gleefully irreverent – toward the money gods, toward religion, and toward the crisis itself. It's not that the recession hasn’t had dire consequences; Lewis knows it has, and that it may get worse. He's fundamentally optimistic, though, and willing to see the abundant humour in the decision making processes of nations, banks and individuals who inadvertently set up the crisis. Either it gets better or it doesn't – either way, you have to laugh. With its wry approach and clear, approachable style, *Boomerang* is recommended for any readers interested in the factors driving the credit crisis around the world.

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