Free Forum Q&A – MICHAEL LEWIS MONEYBALL; THE BIG SHORT; THE BLIND SIDE BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World includes a profile of Greece post-global crashWritten on July 16th, 2015
Originally aired October 2011
As the two countries play a high stakes game of chicken, it’s a good time to see what Greece and Germany looked like in the aftermath of the global crash. Who better to be our tour guide than best-selling author MICHAEL LEWIS?
Lewis’s book, BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World is made up of articles originally published in Vanity Fair and picks up where 2010’s THE BIG SHORT left off. Governments are the focus of this book. Mostly because they have taken on the bad debts of the too-big-to-fail banks, so now they are themselves at risk. Now politics and culture become much more important as to how they will deal with that risk. The book also profiles Ireland, Iceland, and California.
Both Ira Glass and Malcolm Gladwell say today’s guest is their favorite storyteller. In his books and magazine articles, Lewis writes about sports, business, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, political campaigns, fatherhood. Stuff that matters to a lot of people. He’s smart and he has a sense of humor. Once a trader at Salomon Brothers, he wrote his first best-seller, LIAR’S POKER about the excesses of Wall Street during the 1980s. He continues to write about that world with his last two books, a column for Bloomberg, and articles in Vanity Fair. We also talk about the twisted path taken to get MONEYBALL into movie theatres.
Among the things that most people agree are in big trouble these days are the European Union and democracy in the US. I will talk with today’s guest, STEVEN HILL, about both.
We have been hearing for two years about the trouble Europe is in. The debt crisis in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and beyond is challenging this federation of nations and economies to share the solutions to problems that have proven worst in individual countries who took greater risks than their more prudent neighbors. After Europe seemed to have fared better than the US in the early stages of this prolonged crash, what brought on this crisis? How close are they to solving it? How close are they to blowing it? What would Hill’s advice be? And what does it mean for the rest of the world and for the US in particular?
While the bad news of this Euro crisis makes headlines in the US, what has not made headlines is the good news contained in HILL’s 2010 book EUROPE’S PROMISE. I will check in with Hill about the current state of that promise.
Closer to home, HILL believes that America’s recent economic collapse was preceded by a longer-term political collapse. Even before the economic crisis, the US faced choice-less elections, out-of-control campaign spending,partisan polarization, a rigidly divided Congress, a filibuster-wild U.S. Senate, superficial debate, mindless media, a partisan Supreme Court, and paralysis in the face of new global challenges.
As the middle collapses and partisans take over, Americans’ frustration grows – witness the Tea Party and the 99%. In a brand new 2012 Election edition of his 2006 book, Steven Hill renews his 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy.
We're hearing a lot about the trouble Europe is in. The debt crisis in Greece, and perhaps Spain, Portugal, and Italy, is threatening the Euro and the European Union. What's really going on? How did it happen? How bad is it? How will they deal with it? And what does it mean for the rest of the world and for the US in particular?
We'll deal with those issues this Sunday, but that's not all. While the bad news of this Euro crisis makes headlines in the US, a quiet and successful revolution taking place in Europe does not. Europe seems to be finding a way to make capitalism and democracy work for people, not just for corporations. I think this is a critical unreported story in terms of its potential impact. Here's just a few things you may not have heard about.
The European Union, 27 member nations with a half billion people, has become the largest, wealthiest trading bloc in the world, producing nearly a third of the world's economy - nearly as large as the U.S. and China combined. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than either the US, China or Japan.
European nations are rated by the World Health Organization as having the best health care systems in the world. Yet they spend far less than the United States for universal coverage, even as U.S. health care is ranked 37th.
Europe leads in confronting global climate change with renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power, conservation and "green design," creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process. Consequently, Europe's ecological "footprint" (the amount of the earth's capacity that a population consumes) is about half that of the United States for the same standard of living.