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10 things I learned from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

This book examines the European banking crisis of 2008.


    1. Irish banks lost sight of their fundamental banking roles, lending hundreds of millions of euros and inflating property prices to unsustainable levels.

    2. Iceland experienced massive financial speculation by individuals who were traditionally fishermen, showing a dramatic shift in economic activities.

    3. Greece's public finance was marred by unrealistic retirement benefits, extensive off-the-books activities, and excessive government giveaways that were eventually deemed unsustainable.

    Greek public servants were circumventing pay restrictions by receiving salaries for non-existent 13th and 14th months, inflating their actual annual income.

    4. As Greece joined the European Union, its financial irresponsibility posed a stark contrast to Germany's pragmatic and solvent approach, complicating EU dynamics.

    5. Germany, being solvent upon entering the EU, ended up financially supporting insolvent countries like Greece, Portugal, and Italy, thereby becoming a central figure in managing the Euro.

    Many European cultures had a lenient attitude towards borrowing for unaffordable expenditures, unlike in Germany where there was a strong cultural against such practices.

    6. The memory of hyperinflation in the 1920s profoundly influenced contemporary German attitudes towards fiscal and monetary policy.

    7. Big Wall Street banks, like Goldman Sachs, created financial products designed to fail, which they sold to clients including German banks, and then bet against them.

    8. German banks heavily invested in U.S. subprime mortgages pre-2008 using simplistic algorithms, making them prime targets for risky financial products.

    9. Expressing national pride is politically sensitive in Germany, with public displays of patriotism like flag flying being generally uncommon among individuals

    10. German bankers were relatively underpaid compared to their American counterparts, with a significant disparity in compensation for similar roles.

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