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4.3 out of 5 stars
Boomerang: Travels In The New Third World
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 30, 2011
Lewis decides to become a financial disaster tourist, and travels to various bankrupt European countries. He wants to find out at the ground level, what happened in; Iceland, Greece, and Ireland. Well Lewis collects the data he was looking for, and spins out quite the story.

In a nutshell these countries get a hold of cheap foreign credit, and go into a wild financial mania. They also abandon all previous forms of prudent economic management. The details regarding the Greek economy, are beyond anything I have ever heard before. In fact, the Greek situation makes the former Tulip Mania and Dot Com Bubble, seem rather tame and orderly. The Greek debt problems have still not been fully resolved, so this makes the details all the more engaging.

This is a small book, but the message delivers a big impact. The reader will be left with, a much better understanding of the current global financial dilemma. This book was hard to put down, and a very good read. Both general and financially interested readers, will be entertained and astonished.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 13, 2011
Bestselling author Michael Lewis delivers again with this series of themed travelogues about the financial crisis and originally published in Vanity Fair. Each of the articles stands well on its own, but in series they manage to bring an additional element, a much broader perspective on the financial crisis and on human nature.

Lewis travels to the major hot-spots: Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and the US, noting the similarities and the differences in each of their situations, but mostly letting the individual characters who populate his essays tell the stories. Descriptions of people are rich, humorous, playful and cutting, but never mean spirited - the kind of descriptions your friends might use at your roast. Descriptions of countries' national characters and of specific places are equally pithy; 'it's the sort of place bankers stay because they think it's where the artists stay.'

As expected, bank leadership, politicians and regulators fare poorly in Lewis' crosshairs, and although they play small walk-on parts, investment banks such as Merrill Lynch come across as morally bankrupt and duplicitous, far worse than their aforementioned dimwitted but greedy co-conspirators. Lewis is finance literature's equivalent of television's Jon Stewart, calling all out on their motives, their revisionist explanations, and their mistakes. Ultimately, though, Lewis settles on the root cause - it's us; it's human nature and short term thinking. One of his interviewees sums it up best when he says about the virtual bankruptcy of his city, 'I think we've suffered from a series of mass delusions.'

As much as Charles Kindleberger's excellent book Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises offers a deep retrospective of the evidence of our foibles, Boomerang offers finely drawn characters who give insight into the human behaviour that inevitably leads to the crashes. A much different perspective, much more enjoyable to read, but no less effective. (Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth is an equally excellent and alternative take).

As a former bond trader himself, Lewis has an easy grasp of the issues, the interests and the conflicts, and he segues from character to character and setting to setting to weave his story in the most entertaining and engaging of ways. These strengths set Lewis apart from most financial writers who concentrate on a chronological recounting of facts, with character development playing second fiddle. In all of the best ways in these short articles, Lewis is like Charles Dickens with a sketchbook rather than the vast canvas of a full length novel.

You really should read this book. You will be entertained, you will learn something, and whatever your political or economic stripe, you will pause for some self reflection, because in the end the financial crisis boomerangs back to us and to human nature.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
Boomerang is a good sequel to The Big Short which covered the mortgage default debacle very well. We were left wondering as things continued and we never made it out of the depression. Boomerang explains what happened in Iceland, then Ireland, and now in Greece. He also explains how American consultants, the very same who were responsible for engineering mortgage default swaps were paid big bucks to 'advise' Ireland and Greece. Iceland did it on their own. He also explains why Germany is the way it is. It ends with examples from USA. Fasten your seat belts. It is not over! He tells us why things can't remain as they are or were. An excellent read. So timely as we watch the government of Greece tripping over themselves to build a trogen horse in an effort to get $$$ from Germany. The book is quick and easy to read. Michael is someone who can explain this in simple terms because he knows the subject well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Once again, Lewis has outdone himself when it comes to reporting on and analysing the internal workings of the global money markets. From the author of "The Big Short" and "Liar's Poker" we now have "Boomerang". This juicy little collection of satirical essays reflects on the geopolitical fallout from the market meltdown of 2008. Lewis, in his own unique fashion, sifts through the many wreckages of financial incompetence and malfeasance in search of answers as to why such a catastrophic event of three years ago is not going away any time soon. So much for assuming that our global banking systems will protect us from any long-term endangerment caused by financial mismanagement, if the present state of the economies of Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Germany are anything to go by. Looking at these four countries as major examples of how deep this financial crisis has gone long after the first rumblings of the subprime mortgage debacle, Lewis sees a recurring problem. The central banks of this world are almost powerless to continue financing the incredible debt loads that have piled up from the unbelievable deregulated borrowing and spending binge of the past decade. A tour of the industrial landscape of the first three countries shows economies that are permanently disabled because their GDP is too weak to even cover the interest charges on their indebtedness. Permanent bail-out plans now have to be implemented just to contain the problem. Supposedly bona fide banks like the Allied Irish and several big Icelandic ones have collapsed and with them people's savings; thousands of housing projects still remain empty; currencies continue to devalue; and more Eurozone countries threaten to default on their debts. Germany is included in this study because Lewis sees it as the lender of first resort that helped finance much of the reckless and senseless borrowing of its neighbouring countries in an effort to assert great leadership over continental Europe. The price for 'crapping' so many easy euros is that Germany is now faced with cleaning up the mess with enormous negative consequences to its own economic welfare.I highly recommend this book for its ability to find the stories and the people that go with the events and make them both entertaining and enlightening in their telling.
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on April 5, 2013
I have read several of Michael's books and this is one of his best. Michael points out how many nations monetary systems all started to come apart at the same time, just in different formats. The prime culprit in each case was easy credit and excessive greed. This easy to read overview of half a dozen different countries gives a macro view of the world with cheap credit and lax rules allowing massive leverage. After reading Boomerang I have a much better understanding of what went wrong during the credit crisis!
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Michael Lewis is a good writer, a little cynical sometimes and also a king at spotting hilarious behavior in the financial world; in the case of boomerang, he describes four contenders for the Big joke award, being Iceland,Greece,Ireland and Germany.
The story is short (200 pages) , precise and well documented as always, for the books Lewis writes.
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Michael Lewis has a voice and a critical intellect that shines through murky worlds where people want things kept obscure. There was a great deal of embarrassment, grief and loss following the finacial debacle of 2008. Lewis went on the road to investigate and as always spared no prisoners. His account in incisive, funny and well worth the read.
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on May 26, 2015
fantastic read that explains how the greedy american bankers screwed most of the developed world in 2008
Michael Lewis is a very funny and entertaining writer. I couldn't put it down and bought copies for many of my friends.
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on April 10, 2013
It's a little scary to know our delicate world economy depends on human judgement and moral authority, or lack of it.
At least the Greeks didn't work hard at trying to mask their lack of it. I, for one, am buying Gold.
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on July 17, 2014
One of the most interesting books of this type that I have read. The mind boggles at the greed, arrogance and stupidity of those who are supposedly leading the financial community in these countries.
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