Michael Lewis on California: California and Bust

Michael Lewis continues his series on seriously screwed economies around the world with this visit to California (where he lives). It’s better than his Germany installment, if not as much as his fun as his entries on Greece and Iceland.

[Arnold Schwarzenegger has] got to be one of the world’s most recognizable people, but he doesn’t appear to worry that anyone will recognize him, and no one does. It may be that people who get out of bed at dawn to jog and Rollerblade and racewalk are too interested in what they are doing to break their trance. Or it may be that he’s taking them by surprise. He has no entourage, not even a bodyguard. His former economic adviser, David Crane, and his media adviser, Adam Mendelsohn, who came along for the ride just because it sounded fun, are now somewhere far behind him. Anyone paying attention would think, That guy might look like Arnold, but it can’t possibly be Arnold, because Arnold would never be out alone on a bike at seven in the morning, trying to commit suicide. It isn’t until he is forced to stop at a red light that he makes meaningful contact with the public. A woman pushing a baby stroller and talking on a cell phone crosses the street right in front of him and does a double take. “Oh . . . my . . . God,” she gasps into her phone. “It’s Bill Clinton!” She’s not 10 feet away, but she keeps talking to the phone, as if the man were unreal. “I’m here with Bill Clinton.”

“It’s one of those guys who has had a sex scandal,” says Arnold, smiling.

“Wait . . . wait,” says the woman to her phone. “Maybe it’s not Bill Clinton.”

Before she can make a positive identification, the light is green, and we’re off.

via California and Bust | Business | Vanity Fair.


  1. While I am a big fan of Lewis, I cant say I enjoyed reading this … it made me feel depressed about the current state of affairs… I am a very rational person, not prone to extreme viewpoints … but how does this all shake out? I cant envision any palatable scenario… especially when the reptilian part of our brains kick in…

  2. I don't have time to wade through this but those of you who get your financial advice from Vanity Fair can write your comments below and I promise to read them all.

  3. James Cameron says:

    I always find Michael Lewis to be lots of fun, despite the heat he's taken on some of his pieces. Would have missed this, so thanks for posting! (for that matter, thanks for your posts, which I always look forward to!).

  4. I lost alot of respect for Lewis with his overlengthy German piece recently ….. like he was 'high' or something. He was fundamentally wrong on his take on 'Germany' methinks … we all have opinions I guess …. maybe Lewis is to far removed from it all anymore

  5. Ditto for me. I downgraded Lewis after reading his Germany piece. PS — your wife is hot, in a slutty flight attendant kind of way, but still hot.

  6. The california piece is pretty weak. See here for a pretty strong criticism: https://self-evident.org/?p=931

    • Your piece against Lewis is beyond absurd…………….You actually think that because Lewis interviewed the former GOVENOR over the current state treasure, he wouldn't get the facts?!? That's idiotic!