Credit Agencies, An Excerpt From The Big Short

To judge from their behavior, all the rating agencies worried about was maximizing the number of deals they rated for Wall Street investment banks, and the fees they collected from them.

Moody’s once a private company, had gone public in 2000. Since then its revenues had boomed, from 800 million dollars in 2001 to 2.01 billion dollars in 2006. Some huge percentage of the increase –more than half, certainly, but exactly how much more than half they declined to tell Eisman –flowed from the arcane end of the home finance sector, known as structured finance.

The surest way to attract structured finance business was to accept the assumptions of the structured finance industry. “We asked everyone the same two questions,” said Vinny. “What is your assumption about home prices, and what is your assumption about loan losses.” Both rating agencies said they expected home prices to rise and loan losses to be around 5 percent – which, if true, meant that even the lowest-rated triple-B, subprime mortgage bonds crafted from them were money -good.” it was like everyone had agreed in advance that five percent was the number,” said Eisman. “They all said five percent. It was a party and there was a party line.” - an excerpt from the “Big Short”


CNBC: Bullish On Books

Boomerang is cited on CNBC`s "Best Books For The Holidays 2011":

“Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World”
By Michael Lewis
224 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.
List: $25.95
A must read for anyone who wants to know more about what caused the global financial meltdown and how we are all affected by what happens “over there.” Written by the acclaimed author of "Moneyball," "The Big Short," "The Blind Side," and the iconic "Liar's Poker," this book is based on articles Michael Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair covering "financial disaster tourism, traveling to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and beyond." Brilliantly written, and at times sadly hilarious knowing what we know now about just how little we knew about our money and those people we trusted.


A Reflection On Greece

Even if it is technically possible for these people to repay their debts, live within their means, and return to good standing inside the European Union, do they have the inner resources to do it? Or have they so lost their ability to feel connected to anything outside their small worlds that they would rather just shed their obligations?

On the face of it, defaulting on their debts and walking away would seem a mad act: all Greek banks would instantly go bankrupt, the country would have no ability to pay for the many necessities it imports (oil, for instance), and the government would be punished for many years in the form of much higher interest rates, if and when it was allowed to borrow again.

But the place does not behave as a collective... It behaves as a collection of atomized particles, each of which has grown accustomed to pursuing its own interest at the expense of the common good. There’s no question that the government is resolved to at least try to re-create Greek civic life. The only question is: Can such a thing, once lost, ever be re-created? - in nybooks.com

Related: National Bank Of Greece (NBG)


The Credit Wasn’t Just Money, It Was Temptation

The credit wasn’t just money, it was temptation. It offered entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge. Entire countries were told, “The lights are out, you can do whatever you want to do and no one will ever know.” What they wanted to do with money in the dark varied.

Americans wanted to own homes far larger than they could afford, and to allow the strong to exploit the weak. Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers, and to allow their alpha males to reveal a theretofore suppressed megalomania. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish. All these different societies were touched by the same event, but each responded to it in its own peculiar way. - in www.nybooks.com


Moneyball Trailer

The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. - in IMDB

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (ISBN 0-393-05765-8) is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. Its focus is the team's modernized, analytical, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland's disadvantaged revenue situation. A film based on the book starring Brad Pitt was released in 2011. - in Wikipedia


American Journalism Vs. British Journalism

Going from American journalism to British journalism is like going from eating bratwurst to eating Mexican food. - in LA Times


'Boomerang': Money Thrown Out in Hope, Coming Back in Anger

What caused the economic troubles in Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere? Author Michael Lewis has some controversial theories involving sweeping character assessments of each nation. - in PBS News Hour


Everybody Tells Stories In New Orleans

"I didn't know anybody who knew anybody who'd written a book, with the one exception of Walker Percy, who was this freak who lived across the lake. But everybody tells stories in New Orleans.

A New Orleanian ran Goldman Sachs in the golden age of Goldman Sachs, [Gustave] "Gus" Levy. And I think it's because he really emerged from New Orleans with an advanced degree in spinning... And the financial world is all about that." - in L.A. Times


"If you grew up in New York you're unaware how strange Wall Street is." - in L.A. Times, The Writer's Life: Michael Lewis puts faces on business stories


Three Lessons That Stuck For Life

"Growing up in New Orleans, writer Michael Lewis learned three lessons that stuck with him for life:

Success and happiness are very different things.

Never become a lawyer.

You don't need to come from a bookish environment to know how to spin a helluva story." - in LA Times


How Easy Money Turned to Tough Times

Fahreed Zakaria interviews Michael Lewis, author of "Boomerang" & "The Big Short", who says the financial sector "basically abused" society. Too much credit, too much easy money, loaned by banks who were not doing their job of withholding loans to people who were a credit risk, led to the financial collapse.

The future is being undervalued. Americans have forgotten about the long term. There is a cultural problem of wanting public services but not wanting to pay for them. This is shortsighted. A crisis is necessary for change to happen. Lewis believes the end game will play-out at the local level. This could take years.


If The Law Was Enforced, Every Doctor In Greece Would Be In Jail

"The scale of Greek tax cheating was at least as incredible as its scope: an estimated two-thirds of Greek doctors reported incomes under 12,000 euros a year — which meant, because incomes below that amount weren't taxable, that even plastic surgeons making millions a year paid no tax at all….'If the law was enforced," the tax collector said, "every doctor in Greece would be in jail.'" - in CNBC


Video Interview: Michael Lewis On Charlie Rose

Michael Lewis, author of 'Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World' in Charlie Rose, Bloomberg TV.


A Good Quote: Dumb Decisions On Wall Street

“What are the odds that people will make smart decisions about money if they don't need to make smart decisions - if they can get rich making dumb decisions? The incentives on Wall Street were all wrong; they're still all wrong.” ― Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine


European Crisis: I Wouldn't Put My Money On All Of This Working Out Nicely

I doesn't know what is going to happen, but wouldn't put my money on all of this working out nicely. - in Motley Fool UK


Life Lessons From Baseball

"Moneyball" author Michael Lewis discusses the story and its real-world parallels. - CNN Video

The Irish Have a Greater Talent For Suffering

"The Irish just have a greater talent for suffering. If you imposed on the Greeks what the Irish have imposed on the Irish population, people would be getting shot." - in Irish Times


The Greek: Of Control Public Sector

In just the past twelve years the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms — and that number doesn't take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three time the average private-sector job. - in Trader Talk Blog

Greece: Who Sank Who?

'In Greece the banks didn't sink the country. The country sank the banks' - in Allen Lane Twitter


Fishing Is Hard, Investment Banking Is Not

They weren't prepared for this idea that you could make money out of money, without any effort. If you fished, and someone offered you the chance to be an investment banker, you'd take it. Fishing's hard. Investment banking is not. - speaking about Iceland, a tiny country where fishermen were transformed into day traders virtually overnight