Michael "Liar's Poker" Lewis comes home

He shined an embarrassing light on investment banking in the 1980s. This week, he does it again, with bells on


Andrew Leonard
November 15, 2008 12:24AM (UTC)

Michael Lewis is the master. The author of "Liar's Poker" connects the dots between then and now with an amazing cover story for Portfolio magazine, "The End of Wall Street's Boom."

It is well worth reading to the very end. The bulk of the piece focuses on one hedge fund manager who saw the collapse coming and bet against every one else, but the piece stretches much further than that. It's an obituary, a denunciation, and a startling elucidation of the subprime fiasco.

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I thought I was writing a period piece about the 1980s in America. Not for a moment did I suspect that the financial 1980s would last two full decades longer or that the difference in degree between Wall Street and ordinary life would swell into a difference in kind. I expected readers of the future to be outraged that back in 1986, the C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, was paid $3.1 million; I expected them to gape in horror when I reported that one of our traders, Howie Rubin, had moved to Merrill Lynch, where he lost $250 million; I assumed they'd be shocked to learn that a Wall Street C.E.O. had only the vaguest idea of the risks his traders were running. What I didn't expect was that any future reader would look on my experience and say, "How quaint."


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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