“Wall Street wasn’t just the best example, it was a kind of opinion leader in American financial life that has marked the last couple of decades. It distracts lots of young passionate people from doing the things that they probably should be doing because they think, ‘Well, I better go do this thing on Wall Street because it pays so well.‘”
— Michael Lewis, author of the 1989 best-seller Liar’s Poker, in an interview today on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Lewis’s new book, Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, is a collection of essays and articles written over the past two decades, starting with the crash of October 1987.
Lewis sees an upside to the demise of investment banks. Recently visiting Princeton, his alma mater, he said, “I was so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of ‘Scared Straight’ program for Ivy League students. And they should all be made to go and live with 40-year-old hedge fund managers in Greenwich for a week before they set out on their careers on Wall Street–just to see how miserable you were after 20 years of it. But the markets have now corrected that. They’ve provided the program.” —Jessica Shambora