I think like many people, I only partially understand the reasons the economy has gone down the toilet over the past three years. While I get the general idea behind the housing boom, loose credit and CDO’s, I still have trouble getting my mind around them. Lewis did a great job in “The Big Short” of telling the stories of some investors who anticipated the big bust of 2007-08 and profited greatly from their insight.
In “Boomerang,” he takes a look at several countries and examines how they reacted to having massive amounts of free credit in the early 2000s. He looks at:
- Iceland, where everyone wanted to become an investment banker, whether they knew anything about investment banking or not.
- Greece, where the government created a massive entitlement state on borrowed money and with a population that doesn’t want to pay their taxes.
- Ireland, where the Irish took the free money and created their own housing bubble.
- And Germany, where the bankers pretty-much financed most of the other countries.
He finishes up in California – another economy with a population that wants massive government services without having to pay taxes to pay for them.
The best part of the book is Lewis’s writing style. While “The Big Short” and “The Blind Side” were both serious, straight-to-the-point narrations, “Boomerang” is tongue-in-cheek to the point of being almost whimsical. He pokes some serious fun at the cultural tendencies of the people in all those countries. In every chapter, I found myself chuckling over his observations and analysis. I’m not sure anyone in the subject-countries would appreciate his sense of humor, but I sure did.
“Boomerang” is fairly short, and you don’t need an MBA to understand it. If you are curious about what is happening right now in places like Greece and Italy, Lewis has some answers…and a few laughs too.