Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour
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Having made the U.S. financial crisis comprehensible for us all in The Big Short, Michael Lewis realised that he hadn't begun to get grips with the full story. How exactly had it come to hit the rest of the world in the face too? Just how broke are we really?
Boomerang is a tragi-comic romp across Europe, in which Lewis gives full vent to his storytelling genius. The 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 piata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack. The Irish wanted to stop being Irish. The Germans wanted to be even more German. Michael Lewis's investigation of bubbles across Europe is brilliantly, sadly hilarious. He also turns a merciless eye on America: on California, the epicentre of world consumption, where we see that a final reckoning awaits the most avaricious of nations too.
This is the ultimate book of our times. It's time to brace ourselves for impact. And, with Michael Lewis, to laugh out loud while we're doing it.
the backwater it had been for 1,100 years to the place that spawned Björk. If Iceland has become famous for its musicians it’s because Icelanders now have time to play music, and much else. Iceland’s youth are paid to study abroad, for instance, and encouraged to cultivate themselves in all sorts of interesting ways. Since its fishing policy transformed Iceland, the place has become, in effect, a machine for turning cod into PhDs. But this, of course, creates a new problem: people with PhDs
suggested, because he shared their quintessential trait, a public abhorrence of filth that masked a private obsession. “The combination of clean and dirty: clean exterior–dirty interior, or clean form and dirty content—is very much a part of the German national character,” he wrote. Dundes confined himself mainly to the study of low German culture. (For those hoping to examine coprophilia in German high culture he recommended another book, by a pair of German scholars, called The Call of Human
European governments and European banks, accepting virtually any collateral, including Greek government bonds. But the ECB has a rule—and the Germans think the rule very important—that they cannot accept as collateral bonds classified by the U.S. rating agencies as in default. Given that the ECB once had a rule against buying bonds outright in the open market, and another rule against government bailouts, it’s a little odd that they have gotten so hung up on this technicality. But they have. If
sight. It’s just a collection of empty cubicles. At length a woman appears and leads me to Batchelor himself. He’s in his sixties and, oddly enough, a published author. He’s written one book on how to raise children and another on how to face death. Both deliver an overtly Christian message, but he doesn’t come across as evangelical; he comes across as sensible, and a little weary. His day job, before he retired, was running cities with financial difficulties. He came out of retirement to take
actually. He sat down and made a list of ways to improve the department. He faced a fresh challenge: how to deliver service that was the same as before, or even better than before, with half the resources. How to cope with an environment of scarcity. He began to measure things that hadn’t been measured. The number one cause of death in firefighting was heart attacks. Number two was a truck crash. He was now in charge of a department that would be both overworked and in a hurry. Fewer people doing