Michael Lewis on Subprime: The Poor are Sharks

Funny, deeply tongue-in-cheek column on subprime by writer Michael Lewis at Bloomberg. He role-plays a hedge fund manager blow up by the mortgage meltdown:

So right after the Bear Stearns funds blew up, I had a thought: This is what happens when you lend money to poor people.

Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing personally against the poor. To my knowledge, I have nothing personally to do with the poor at all. It’s not personal when a guy cuts your grass: that’s business. He does what you say, you pay him. But you don’t pay him in advance: That would be finance. And finance is one thing you should never engage in with the poor.

… never again will I go one-on-one again with poor people. They’re sharks.


  1. Are you trying for greater class division? I’m not poor and I’ve found that rich people are greater sharks. Endless points could be made to support my claim (insane gas prices, Enron, Mattel, etc.).
    No, of course you shouldn’t lend more money than people can afford. This is common sense with any financial class.
    You have nothing to do with the poor? How about social responsibility? Something that’s taught in Business 101. How about if you donate your time before making inane and senseless comments about poor people?

  2. Hey Michelle,
    Read Mr. Lewis more closely. He’s not serious, he’s using the guise of a hedge fund mgr. It’s sarcastic wit.

  3. Great stuff.
    I also liked a recent pmarca post:
    which exchanges “idiots” for “sharks”, but makes the same point. Another case where truth might be stranger than fiction.

  4. Terrific irony Michelle, there is a danger though that some might think you’re serious, maybe you should add a “wink” emoticon just in case.

  5. Does Michael Lewis actually run a hedge fund ($50 million in earnings last year, $70 million this year), or is he just a writer and a former bond salesman? Is his latest Bloomberg piece (Sept. 12) more sarcasm? It is only a question of time before the first public pension fund blows up because of risky hedge fund investments. Remember Orange County and the willingness of its former investment manager to invest in high risk investments? The fallout from that bankruptcy in 1994 hurt a lot of people who depended on County services. While the past few years have been very profitable for hedge fund managers, we should never forget that even a Rothschild was gassed at Auschwitz during World War II. When society unravels, all bets are off.