IN HIS latest tour de force, Michael Lewis looks at “why Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers”, the reasons “Greeks wanted to turn their country into a piñata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack,” and “why the Irish wanted to stop being Irish” and “the Germans wanted to be even more German”.
Lewis surveys the after-effects of the cheap credit rolling across the planet between 2002 and 2008. Delving beyond the financial facts into the cultural fabric that makes these countries so different in their reaction to the boom and the bust.
As with any story about debt, the US plays a supporting role – Lewis saves for it a slice of his acerbic wit, as both California and Washington get a well-deserved roasting.
Like other works, the facts are cut through with humanity, the detail with drama and the cynicism with a lining of optimism.
For as long as the economy seesaws from indulgent booms to devastating busts, we will need Michael Lewis to point out that the emperor is lacking suitable attire, and that really we should all be laughing at him – it certainly beats crying.