Michael Lewis for The Daily Beast on the Crash

February 1st, 2011

The Daily Beast

February 1, 2011 | 11:45am

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Bestselling author of The Big Short, Michael Lewis answers questions on the culture of Wall Street, Obama’s economic policies, and how the characters in his book are doing.

The paperback of The Big Short, Michael Lewis’ bestselling account of the financial crisis, is out today. He answered a few questions from The Daily Beast and will be joining us for a live chat on Thursday at 3:30 pm EST to answer your questions.

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The news of John Paulson’s $5 billion year makes me wonder how the main characters in your book are doing. Are they similarly thriving?

No. Is anyone?

What do you make of the culture on Wall Street? Has it changed at all since the recession?

Wall Street has grown more aware that it is vulnerable to public opinion. That people on Wall Street are doing an even better job of laying low from public view than they did before the crisis, and spending even more time trying to influence the political process. But is anyone feeling chastened? Hard to say—which is in itself amazing.

Article – Wyden Summer Reads – The Big Short The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. By Michael Lewis. 320 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $15.95. After the success of Liar’s Poker you wrote that few readers picked up on the true message of your book and instead read it as a celebratory how-to or guide to the financial world. Do you think readers got the message of The Big Short? The sense that so few people truly understood what was going on.

Or the broader message that the incentives in the financial system were bizarre and in need of changing? Not really.

Your dispatches from around the world on the economic crisis have proved excellent guides to problem spots, so where is next? Is there another Iceland or Greece looming?

Ireland, obviously. I have a piece about it that comes this week in Vanity Fair. After that…New Jersey?

And to turn to politics, what’s your take on Obama’s economic policies? The American economy appears stagnant but he argues that it would be worse off if it weren’t for his reforms and action, do you think they could have done more or were they stuck?

He was dealt such a bad hand to start with that it’s hard to get very worked up about how he has played it. I’d have played it differently—I’d have started by breaking up the big Wall Street firms—but what do I know?