The Daily Campus: Michael Lewis talks economic greed

January 25th, 2012

The Daily Campus
January 25, 2012
By, Rahfin Faruk

Best-selling author Michael Lewis brought his wit and humor to McCord Auditorium on Tuesday as a part of the Tate Lecture series sponsored by the Omni Hotels.

He explained complex economic topics like the European debt crisis and the subprime mortgage crisis in everyday language.

The New York Times once said of Michael Lewis, “He can make anything interesting.”

His interviewer, Lee Cullum, a senior fellow of the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at SMU, asked a series of challenging questions.

The discussion started off with Lewis’ first book, “Liar’s Poker.” The book discusses Wall Street culture in the 1980s.

“I thought it was the last time I was going to write about Wall Street. I didn’t think that Wall Street could get any crazier,” Lewis said.

At the time, Wall Street was expanding at a rapid pace and often relying on risky deals to turn profits.

“But, then it all changed. Wall Street could set all the rules for itself and yet it failed to generate money,” Lewis said. “How can a casino cheat itself?”

After asking himself this question, Lewis decided to use an investigative strategy that he has used ever since: gather primary sources.

“I started knocking on the doors of the people who had lost large amounts of money. And surprisingly, they talked to me,” Lewis said.

For Lewis’s later books like “The Big Shot,” he was able to use his reputation as an insider to tell unique stories.

“Wall Street was out of control in the last decade. An art history major from Princeton found himself at one of the big firms and took home wild amounts of money,” Lewis said.

In recent years, Lewis has become a self-proclaimed financial disaster journalist who tours European countries struggling with large amounts of public debt.

“If you were to ask me who is really in trouble, I would say it’s Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. But, everything is interconnected because of the European Union,” Lewis said.

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