The Postgrad Agenda is no literature review blog, but something about Michael Lewis’ thorough account of our nation’s financial decline has compelled me to publish a short review on it. If you have ever been interested in the cause or mechanisms behind our economic collapse, this is your story. I initially picked up the book because I wanted more clarity surrounding why this country is in financial shambles. To understand the destruction, you’ve got to understand the beast! I had been doing a lot of blog and article reading on the topic, and I also watched the Academy Award-winning documentary “Inside Job,” which I highly recommend to anyone who feels they are more visual learners. “The Big Short” has undoubtedly served as the most comprehensive written history of the downfall that I have encountered yet.
In it, you meet an animated cast of (real) characters who were all a part of the interconnected web that was pre-decline Wall Street. These people are presented in such a manner that this whole book truly reads like an intense fictional story with twists and turns (unfortunately for millions and millions of U.S. citizens, every bit of it is true). Lewis walks you through the process from the very beginnings of the markets that crashed, not just the beginning of our problems. He makes a valiant effort to explain very complex financials ideas and instruments in layman’s terms. More often than not he succeeds in doing this, though the latter parts of the book may lose some readers who have less background knowledge of the system. Ironically, it is stressed repeatedly that the very instruments responsible for the decline are not even widely understood within the industry! Nonetheless, Lewis does a great job at making the book read in a conversational style; it steers far clear of a textbook explanation.
Though I haven’t read volumes of related books to compare to, I highly suggest that anyone interested in understanding the disaster that changed our country pick up this book. If I can guarantee one thing to you, it’s that you will close the book having learned not just one, not two, but many things about those responsible for our present-day economy. Talk about good dinner conversation!