Lewis suggested that the US should have fewer political appointments and more civil servants so there would be more experience and fewer “joys”.
“Nobody seems to have taken it seriously.” Actually, he says, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm “read it The premonition and [Lewis’ previous book] The fifth risk‘ and wanted a key role in cybersecurity to be made apolitical.
But the Senate disagreed, ruling that the role would seem unimportant.
As the pandemic subsides, Lewis worries the experience will be wasted.
“There is no learning. And there’s certainly no social consensus… If we’re going to live the life we do, we just need to get a lot more sophisticated in how we manage risk.”
He wants to track more diseases, communicate statistics better. He thinks we should play it safe when pathogens emerge: The US should have closed schools while it investigated swine flu in 2009.
Lewis now resides in Berkeley, but was born in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.
“When I was growing up, nobody did anything. For real. They boarded up their houses. Now New Orleans hurricane season is a much more sophisticated risk management endeavor. They evacuate the city more often, but in response to much better data. That seems like progress.”
Making political points isn’t really Lewis’s game. Yes, The fifth risk (2018) targeted the Trump administration for being so hostile to the federal government that it didn’t even bother to find out what it was doing. But he insists that he’s no expert and that he prides himself on “not bugging the reader”.
He mainly wants his characters from his first book’s Big Swinging Dicks to be heard Liar’s Poker further.
Why do characters open up to him? “First it’s time.” Lewis spent “hundreds of hours” with Charity Dean, a California public health official who is the heroine of The premonition.
Second, Lewis’ books are not a one-way street. “I usually figure out how to make myself useful [sources]“. in the money ballLewis ended up with Oakland Athletics baseball general manager Billy Beane, who found that some players were systematically undervalued.
In return, “I was able to bring him a lot of information from the dressing room because the players talked to me and didn’t talk to him”.
if The premonition has not pushed any change yet, money ball certainly. Elite sport is permeated by data analysts.
Did that improve the sport? “It was really bad for baseball.” The smart way to play baseball is to “minimize movement” so “it becomes a slower, sluggish game.”
But in basketball and American football, he says, “the smart way to play it is a lot freer and more active.
“The three-point shot wasn’t properly appreciated until 20 years after the three-point line existed, and it was appreciated by analytical people.”
The criticism of Lewis is that he is biased towards his characters. Do the villains even have a right to an answer?
“Oh yeah. I just don’t show the work.” He says he confirms what he’s been told: He’s spent so much time with other baseball teams, “Billy Beane didn’t even know I was writing a book about the Oakland A’s “.
But what if the narration is wrong and Lewis is such a good storyteller that readers swallow it anyway? in the flash boys (2014) he targeted high-frequency trading to manipulate the market, although it arguably reduced costs for many investors.
Did he choose the wrong target? “It depends on what you think my goal was. I thought the exchange would be the goal.”
Exchanges make money by selling privileged access to traders. “Exchanges shouldn’t be this profitable. I’m not even sure they should be for-profit companies; they should be mutual companies.”
Traders are a mix: smart ones who take risks and “dumb quick traders who don’t add anything.” [and] just exploit latency issues,” he says.
“It bothers me that they’re becoming billionaires and people think they’re making big contributions to society. But they are not the problem. The problem is the system.”
If so, why did regulators look into high-frequency trading and decide not to act? “That’s wrong. Because I spoke to the people who ran the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission].
“They come in and say we’re going to fix this, that’s outrageous. But it’s incredibly difficult to fix because the system is so entrenched… I’ve had people very high up in the SEC looking for my autograph because flash boys inspired them.” (Some high-frequency traders “loved” the book, he says.)
Lewis leads a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign flash boys.
“I have emails between supposedly independent financial experts — the kind of people who appear on CNBC and heads of high-frequency trading firms — where this person says I’m going to discredit for $50,000 a month flash boys. So this is my next book. I’m not going to let that happen to me.”
Bad regulation helps explain politics, he argues. “What really works for Trump is: The system is rigged. He’s wrong about how rough he is with it and he doesn’t want to fix any of it and he’s friends with all the people who get the money. But he is not mistaken that there is an incredible injustice.”
Liar’s Poker, his wild account of learning to sell bonds, has shaped our image of Wall Street. did flash boysby claiming the system is rigged, contributing to the meme stock craze?
“I don’t think anybody needed me.” He argues that this was fueled by the response to the financial crisis. He has said he finds the meme stock craze funny.
“I really don’t see why I should get too upset about this. I don’t think the SEC should get in the way of that. But I hope none of my friends buy GameStop.”
Should the SEC also omit Elon Musk, who misrepresented his Twitter stake when he moved to buy the company?
“If he is indeed breaking security laws, which he appears to be doing, no… If the fact that Elon Musk did this deters the SEC from enforcing its own law, you must question the value of the law.” That seems crazy.”
Lewis studied art history at Princeton. Can he see any value in NFTs that some see as art? “I don’t trust myself on this subject. I can imagine saying something really stupid that I regret five years later. But the answer is no.”
His eldest child wants him to write about climate change, but Lewis is looking for the right character: “Someone who’s already made billions of dollars, operating largely in secret, making bets that have paid off because of this disaster … I have.” conducted a casting search and do not believe this person exists.”
Does that frustrate him? “That I can’t write about the most important thing? Not too much. Little bit.”
He’s 61 now. Isn’t he worried his best days are behind him?
“No, no, I think they’re actually ahead of me. I think I’m getting better.” In that confidence, I recognize the 25-year-old charlatan bond seller that Lewis once was. Still, I leave breakfast feeling like I’d tell him everything if I were a renegade investor cynically making billions off the climate catastrophe.
Michael Lewis on site
Chances of another Trump presidency? 18.3 percent
Will Biden run again? Will he be alive? If he’s alive, I assume he’ll walk again.
What do you say to young people who want to go into finance? There are good ways to do it and there are bad ways to do it. Be careful how you do it rather than whether you do it.
Uber or walk? Stroll.
Twitter or Instagram? Twitter as a news feed.
The metaverse in one word? Flat and wrong.
— financial times