Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Boomerang by Michael Lewis -- Book Review


The beauty of having your own blog is getting to make it your own.  This book and this post is not really about Disney, although I will try to swing it around at the end.

Boomerang is the latest offering from Michael Lewis.  Lewis is best known for authoring the Blind Side and Moneyball.  Moneyball is a huge influence on not only myself, but the entire Mighty Men of Mouse Team.  We even referenced it all the way back in our first episode.

Mr. Lewis is also known for having worked in the financial sector back in the 80s and writing extensively on the topic.  His first book was Liar's Poker.  Liar's Poker was a narrative of his maturation as a bond salesman with Salomon Brothers and their eventual collapse.  After the financial crisis which  hit the country in the late Aughts, Lewis wrote the Big Short.  That work outlined what went wrong with the financing of home buying and the disaster that ensued.  I read the two back-to-back and there is a good synergy between both books.  Both lead perfectly into Boomerang.

Lewis' latest offering is Boomerang.  This is one that Russ suggested in our Christmas Wish List episode. Boomerang is the story of the collapse of various international bubbles.  His prose is masterful and manages to make a financial tome read more like a travelogue.  Having read his chapters on Iceland and Greece, I feel that I have a sense of why they ended up in a mess.  More importantly, I feel like I've been there.

I was disappointed that Ireland didn't get the same treatment.  That's more likely because it's the only country he covers that I've been to.  My favorite moment, however, is in that Irish chapter.   While discussing the Irish desire to build, he describes it as the Irish's collective desire to live beyond what they can actually afford.  Unfortunately, this is what eventually fell/is falling upon the Celtic Tiger. 

There's a lot to be taken from that insight in everyday life.  There's a tendency to blow out trips to the World.  In an effort to give your family the most magical time, you can actually hurt them in the long term.  Don't be Ireland.  Don't be Iceland.  You can have a great time in the World without maxing out your Visa.  A relaxing (and free) day at the pool with the kids can be a precious memory you hold with you forever.  You don't need to need to blow a car payment at Cinderella's Castle to make the brood happy.

Boomerang is an amazing book that makes the very difficult easy to understand.  It's a fun and informative read.  I'd suggest cracking it open on the plane ride home.

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