Watching the onion of Wall Street being peeled back by a handful of far-sighted and somewhat eccentric short sellers was the perfect way to frame this narrative. The This American Life episode on credit default swaps and and the other mumbo-jumbo that led to the $700 billion TARP bailout was superb, but given the more expansive format of a full-length book the depth and detail and human interest of Lewis’s elaborate tale was that much more spectacular.
Clearly there should no longer be any doubt that opacity equals evil. I will not go into the many financial reform and therefore political implications of what Lewis describes, but the subject of this book should be the beating heart of the debate when it comes to financial reform. It’s all here: the clueless ratings agencies, the cryptic investment banks, the used bond salesmen, the global frenzy for greedy speculation, the hapless lower-class subprime mortgage pawns, and, most of all, the up-is-down incentivization of a loaded system that had nowhere to go but kaboom.
REPORT CARD: A+