Tuesday, January 31, 2012


In a discussion of the financial crisis, Francis Fukuyama recommends The Big Short by Michael Lewis. “What this book does quite brilliantly is show that there was actually a high degree of intentionality in creating the crisis.”  This is something that any of us who have tried to educate ourselves now know well.  Much of the financial system was, and largely remains, predatory. A primary question now is what to do about it.  (Some ideas, perhaps here and here.)

I read The Big Short a while ago and strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't.  Only today did I start reading Boomerang, Lewis's more recent collection of essays. The piece on Iceland is funny as well as insightful:
...Back away from the Icelandic economy and you can't help but notice something really strange about it: the people have cultivated themselves to the point where they are unsuited for the work available to them. All these exquisitely schooled, sophisticated people, each and every one of whom feels special, are presented with two mainly horrible ways to earn and living: trawler fishing and aluminium smelting There are of course a few jobs in Iceland that any refined, educated person might like to do. Certifying the non-existence of elves, for instance...But not nearly so many as the place needs, given its talent for turning cod into PhDs. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Icelanders were still waiting for some task more suited to their filigreed minds to turn up inside their economy so they might do it. Enter investment banking...
It remains to be seen whether women will make a better job of Iceland's future than its men have of its present...assuming men let them.

No comments: