Big Shorts: Michael Lewis Exposes Wall Street


Michael Lewis is an American contemporary non-fiction author and financial journalist. He was once called the “wonder boy” of Wall Street, in a Michael Fox “The Secret of My Success” kind of way. Lewis has estimated that he sold “some millions” of books writing tell-alls about the machinery and mechanics of the financial collapse of Wall Street, which was dubbed “the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression.”

Raised in New Orleans to a corporate lawyer dad and community activist mother, Lewis was a Princeton graduate with no financial experience whatsoever when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, which had previously turned him down for a job, while in London. The story goes that an English cousin manipulated a banquet seat for him next to the wife of a managing partner of the capitalist firm, who then persuaded her husband to set up an interview for him. The rest is his story.

After training in New York, Lewis returned to London and was literally “handed,” according to him, several multi-million dollar accounts with the Salomon Brothers to manage, though he had no money management skill of the magnitude that he was entrusted with. However inexperienced, he managed to succeed and go over the top, but became disillusioned in the ways of Wall Street finances when he realized that the industry was building a new set of bargaining chips that included cheating the poor and middle classes out of every dime for which they worked and saved.

As simple as that sounds, the machine behind it was only easy when it came to the investing insiders who knew the game, how to play it and had the money to play with. Lewis was one of the early whistle-blowers who saw the collapse coming, but who was also put outside the Wall Street circles and essentially ignored until all of the dominoes started to fall, one square at a time … and the largest collapse began with the investment bankers for Citigroup, formerly called Salomon Smith Barney....