Profiling investors who profited from the sub-prime mortgage
crash might sound like a catalogue of avarice, but Lewis's
2010 book depicts them as endearing eccentrics challenging
the group-think that caused the crisis.
The book's focus is
a group of unaligned investors who created the credit default
swap market to bet against a house-of-cards housing mortgage
The culmination of their efforts was the ''silent crash'' of
2007 when the banks, having been willing to take the other
side of bets they thought they would profit from, came
Far from seeming like vultures, the investors are those for
whom betting against the market is the only logical way to
participate in a system in which a counter-analysis is
unwelcome or derided.
Lewis, a former investment banker, is known for sharp, quirky
prose illuminating his subjects' eccentricities and foibles.
There are many gems, such as one of his subjects, Steve
Eisman, explaining Wall Street's pecking order: ''Goldman
Sachs was the big kid who ran the games in this
Merrill Lynch was the little fat kid assigned the least
pleasant roles, just happy to be a part of things''.
Lewis brings to life the shoddy financial vehicles such as
collateralised debt obligations that brought the system down
with blunt assessments of how they work.
The book serves as a morality tale of the perils of human
blindness and folly, and a meditation on the psyche of