Best-selling author Michael Lewis may have a big problem. He just might be too smart for America.
As a big-name nonfiction writer, one of Lewis’ pursuits is continually coming up with juicy book subjects, which his publishers can market aggressively. Twenty-five years ago, the Wall Streeter-turned-author burst out of the financial industry with “Liar’s Poker,” a brilliant undressing of how Wall Street really worked, from the inside out.
Now, Lewis, following a string of huge commercial and critical successes, has returned with a book about Wall Street, called “Flash Boys.” Lewis’ thesis is that the stock market is rigged and ordinary investors are getting ripped off by a system created and exploited by people with access to incredibly sophisticated computers. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-03-30/high-frequency-traders-ripping-off-investors-michael-lew…
It sure sounded scary and ominous when Lewis and others explained it Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” a marketing platform as good as there is in the world
But wait a moment: Was it new or even news at all, to suggest that high-speed technology has given the big boys a high trading advantage? I mean, I got a 98 on my algebra regents in the ninth grade, and I’VE suspected this for years, too.
Is Lewis going to score as big with this book as he did with the likes of his popular volumes, “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side,” both of which became major Hollywood movies?
I have no doubt that this book is extremely well written and meticulously researched. Chances are that his publisher has already done math of its own to show that there are enough very bright people out there who will plunk down money for Lewis’ new book. It may not be classic beach reading but it will find an audience.
Wall Street — like the media — always serves as a convenient target for America’s scorn and anger. Are we getting screwed? Hell yes — Michael Lewis said so!
Lewis has to hope that he hasn’t reached too far this time to achieve another gargantuan success. Can most people even pronounce “algorithm,” much less comprehend the meaning of Lewis’ new math?
Here’s what is going to happen: The book will get hyped beyond belief by erudite writers. Then, at the height of its fame, a new army of critics, from Wall Street and Washington, will step in to dispute the merits of Lewis’ work. They’ll shrug and insist they already knew it. So? So, big deal. They’ll whisper that Lewis is running out of things to say.
Meanwhile Lewis has the last laugh right now. He was trending Sunday night on social media, the surest sign of how someone has had major resonance.