Thursday, March 8, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

A while back, I reviewed a Michael Lewis book called The Big Short, all about the personalities and events that built the Great Recession. In the time it took to write and release that book, Lewis stumbled across a few shrewd financiers who were predicting a global crash based on the same kind of accounting principles that shook America. Lewis initially dismissed these characters as people who'd gotten lucky predicting one crash, and now thought they had a talent for predicting crises. By the time he was promoting The Big Short, Iceland and Greece were deep in trouble. Lewis knew there was more to the story.

Boomerang, then, is all about how the American banking system's creative approach to credit tranching spread round the world. Again, Lewis takes the time to introduce readers to the characters making the big financial decisions. He makes some broad and questionable arguments extending generalized national character traits (Icelandic, Greek, Irish, German) to their money management techniques, but the effect is meant to be humorous and it is. In fact, the whole book's tone is gleefully irreverent – toward the money gods, toward religion, and toward the crisis itself. It's not that the recession hasn’t had dire consequences; Lewis knows it has, and that it may get worse. He's fundamentally optimistic, though, and willing to see the abundant humour in the decision making processes of nations, banks and individuals who inadvertently set up the crisis. Either it gets better or it doesn't – either way, you have to laugh. With its wry approach and clear, approachable style, Boomerang is recommended for any readers interested in the factors driving the credit crisis around the world.

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on March 8, 2012. Written by Shauna Thomas, Librarian.   

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