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The Big Short Is A Bit Short: Crime, not "Delusion" Drove The Crisis

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Why The Big Short Appears A Bit Short In Missing The Reasons for The Crisis:

Michael Lewis's Mass Delusion Thesis Versus Senator Kaufman's Case for Crime

By Danny Schechter,Author of the Crime of Our Time

It's the number one book in the county. Every day, Michael Lewis's the Big Short is getting B I G G E R, no doubt because he is so mediagenic, conversational and likes to laugh wiyh the hosts who interview him about his findings.

On Sunday, he laughed with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes when the two bantered on about how about stupid it all was and why so many smart people drank the Kool Aid. The story he tells has no hard edges really"its about "delusion," Wall Street deluding us all and then each other.

The idea of delusions feeds a psychological and cultural analysis of bankers cut off from the world, focused on their own pocket books and believing their own hype. It is in this sense Shakespearian---the stuff of drama, not calculation. What a web we weave when first we practice to deceive, to quote Sir Walter Scott.

At one point in the 60 Minutes two part interview purporting to explain the collapse, Lewis drifts off message and calls it all, an "elegant theft."

Theft is a word we associate with crime, not personal greed or human failings. But that point was left unexplored by 60 Minutes, of course, because if the story is about crime, than we have to move into the arena of facts, not just opinions, insights hyperbole and personalities.

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Ironically, many of the facts that Lewis himself cites comes from an undergraduate college thesis according to the Deal Journal of the Wall Street Journal which calls his book a "yam." They note that his book credited ""A.K. Barnett-Hart, a Harvard undergraduate who had just written a thesis about the market for subprime mortgage-backed CDOs that remains more interesting than any single piece of Wall Street research on the subject."

Perhaps even more interesting than his own book?

Earlier, Lewis told the Atlantic what his main sources of information is: "Actually, if you were to draw a pie chart of where I get news from, I bet I get a third from whatever people in Berkeley--specifically the parents' at my kids' school--are outraged about. I'm surrounded by people who are alive to what's going on in the world and who are quick to be outraged by it."

So there he goes again, with emotion and attitude apparently meaning more to him than fact finding.

Lewis has criticized those who criticize Goldman Sachs, according to Bloomberg, writing earlier, "bashing Goldman Sachs is Simply a Game for Fools."

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Which side is he on I would guess, his side. On 60 Minutes, TV's top newsmagazine, he was described as a former trader. Not according to Janet Takakoli who runs her own financial firm:

"Imagine my surprise to see him billed as a trader on 60 Minutes, since he was actually a junior salesman," she writes on Huffington Post, "Well-heeled male peacocks strutted the trading floor, and junior salesmen were girlie-men, mere eunuchs serving their pashas."

She also notes that he was among the "experts" who downplayed the warnings about the very financial crisis that he has suddenly, thanks to validation from CBS and MSNBC, become THE expert on, charging "he ridiculed their concern of a pending crisis due to the surge in derivatives demand and called it "this year's case in point." Then Michael showed how dangerous it is to be a brilliant writer with a poor command of facts and their true meaning"

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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