Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Big Short: The Movie



I enjoyed reading Michael Lewis's The Big Short and Moneyball. The latter was made into a really good movie even if you had no interest in baseball.

Hard to see how The Big Short could be made into a good movie. Michael Lewis writes about it in Vanity Fair:

...One problem I distinctly did NOT worry about when I wrote The Big Short was how to write it so that it would become a movie. Who’d make a movie about credit-default swaps? Who for that matter would make a movie of any book of mine? By 2008, when I started gathering string for The Big Short, I had come to think of the movie business as a place that spent huge sums of money with incredible enthusiasm to ensure the movies of books were never made...

Moneyball was hard to imagine as a movie, but at least it was about baseball and thus organically linked to popular culture. Wall Street, even in the aftermath of a financial crisis that has cost so many so much, is not. The behavior of our money people is still treated as a subject for specialists. This is a huge cultural mistake. High finance touches—ruins—the lives of ordinary people in a way that, say, baseball does not, unless you are a Cubs fan. And yet, ordinary people, even those who have been most violated, are never left with a clear sense of how they’ve been touched or by whom. Wall Street, like a clever pervert, is often suspected but seldom understood and never convicted.

It is my hope that Adam McKay’s The Big Short might actually help change this situation. The very material I would have thought would frighten away a movie director McKay embraces. He lucidly explains credit-default swaps and collateralized debt obligations! He captures the essence of the behavior that led to the recent financial catastrophe, and of the main characters of my book—in ways that I suspect will haunt their real-life loved ones. The Big Short is just a movie, but it’s also an invitation, to a huge popular audience, to have a smart and interesting discussion about the place of money and finance in all our lives...

Later: My favorite economist, Paul Krugman, likes the movie: Bubbles and Lies.

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