30+ quotes from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

Quotes from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Michael Lewis ·  213 pages

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“Everywhere you turn you see Americans sacrifice their long-term interests for a short-term reward.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Germans longed to be near shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, is an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“...a tourist can't help but have a distorted opinion of a place: he meets unrepresentative people, has unrepresentative experiences, and runs around imposing upon the place the fantastic mental pictures he had in his head when he got there.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as "arduous" is as early as fifty-five for men and fifty for women. As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than six hundred Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, writers, musicians, and on and on and on.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“TWO THINGS STRIKE every Irish person when he comes to America, Irish friends tell me: the vastness of the country, and the seemingly endless desire of its people to talk about their personal problems. Two things strike an American when he comes to Ireland: how small it is, and how tight-lipped. An Irish person with a personal problem takes it into a hole with him, like a squirrel with a nut before winter. He tortures himself and sometimes his loved ones, too. What he doesn’t do, if he has suffered some reversal, is vent about it to the outside world. The famous Irish gift of gab is a cover for all the things they aren’t telling you.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“...[H]uman beings are neurologically ill-designed to be modern Americans. The human brain evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in an environment defined by scarcity. It was not designed, at least originally, for an environment of extreme abundance... Even a person on a diet who sensibly avoids coming face-to-face with a piece of chocolate cake will find it hard to control himself if the chocolate cake somehow finds him... When faced with abundance, the brain's ancient reward pathways are difficult to suppress. In that moment the value of eating the chocolate cake exceeds the value of the diet. We cannot think down the road when we are faced with the chocolate cake.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The politicians in Ireland speak Gaelic the way the Real Housewives of Orange County speak French.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis. San Jose has the highest per capita income of any city in the United States, after New York. It has the highest credit rating of any city in California with a population over 250,000. It is one of the few cities in America with a triple-A rating from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, but only because its bondholders have the power to compel the city to levy a tax on property owners to pay off the bonds. The city itself is not all that far from being bankrupt.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called hidden people—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free, but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Left alone in a dark room with a pile of money, the Irish decided what they really wanted to do with it was buy Ireland. From each other. An Irish economist named Morgan Kelly, whose estimates of Irish bank losses have been the most prescient, has made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that puts the property-related losses of all Irish banks at roughly 106 billion euros. (Think $10.6 trillion.) At the rate money flows into the Irish treasury, Irish bank losses alone would absorb every penny of Irish taxes for the next four years.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Isocrates: “Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“What happened was that everyone in Ireland had the idea that somewhere in Ireland there was a little wise old man who was in charge of the money, and this was the first time they’d ever seen this little man,” says McCarthy. “And then they saw him and said, Who the fuck was that??? Is that the fucking guy who is in charge of the money??? That’s when everyone panicked.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Take whatever is thrown at you and build upon it. “Yes . . . and” rather than “No . . . but.” “The idiot is bound by his pride,” he says. “It always has to be his way. This is also true of the person who is deceptive or doing things wrong: he always tries to justify himself. A person who is bright in regard to his spiritual life is humble. He accepts what others tell him—criticism, ideas—and he works with them.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a “Purgation-Calendar.” Then there is the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings. “As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!,” to select but one of the seemingly endless examples.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“I thought, Holy shit, who is paying attention?” Thus”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“What do you tell your mother when she asks you where to put her money?” I asked. “Guns and gold,”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Indeed, one view of the European debt crisis—the Greek street view—is that it is an elaborate attempt by the German government on behalf of its banks to get their money back without calling attention to what they are up to. The German government gives money to the European Union rescue fund so that it can give money to the Irish government so that the Irish government can give money to Irish banks, so the Irish banks can repay their loans to the German banks. “They are playing billiards,” says Enderlein. “The easier way to do it would be to give German money to the German banks and let the Irish banks fail.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Passing one tableau of blood and guts and moving on to the next, I caught myself glancing over my shoulder to make sure some Viking wasn’t following me with a battle-ax. The effect was so disorienting that when I reached the end and found a Japanese woman immobile and reading on a bench, I had to poke her on the shoulder to make sure she was real.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Icelanders are among the most inbred human beings on earth—geneticists often use them for research.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Thousands upon thousands of government employees take to the streets to protest the bill. Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Charles Kindleberger’s 1978 classic, Manias, Panics, and Crashes.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“In 1980 only 23 percent of state pension money had been invested in the stock market; by 2008 the number had risen to 60 percent.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“When Neil Armstrong took his small step from Apollo 11 and looked around, he probably thought, Wow, sort of like Iceland—even though the moon was nothing like Iceland. But then, he was a tourist, and a tourist can’t help but have a distorted opinion of a place: he meets unrepresentative people, has unrepresentative experiences, and runs around imposing upon the place the fantastic mental pictures he had in his head when he got there. When Iceland became a tourist in global high finance it had the same problem as Neil Armstrong.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The German losses are still being toted up, but at last count they stand at $21 billion in the Icelandic banks, $100 billion in Irish banks, $60 billion in various U.S. subprime-backed bonds, and some yet to be determined amount in Greek bonds. The only financial disaster in the last decade German bankers appear to have missed was investing with Bernie Madoff”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment.” The authors, Brad Barber and Terrance Odean,”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The smart person accepts. The idiot insists.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Leverage buys you a glimpse of a prosperity you haven’t really earned.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“This is the secret of success for anywhere in the world, not just the monastery,” he says, and then goes on to describe pretty much word for word the first rule of improvisational comedy, or for that matter any successful collaborative enterprise. Take whatever is thrown at you and build upon it. “Yes . . . and” rather than “No . . . but.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as “arduous” is as early as fifty-five for men and fifty for women. As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than six hundred Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


“Between 1845 and 1852 the country experienced the single greatest loss of population in world history: in a nation of 8 million, 1.5 million people left. Another million Irish people starved to death, or died from the effects of hunger. Inside of a decade the nation went from being among the most densely populated in Europe to one of the least.”
― Michael Lewis, quote from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World


About the author

Michael Lewis
Born place: in New Orleans, Louisiana, The United States
Born date October 15, 1960
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