Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
review by Andrew H.
Flash Boys, the latest from the ever prolific Michael Lewis, is a fantastic eye-opening account of the inherent corruption of the financial system. Not only the corruption, but Lewis exposes the fact that most bankers were too ignorant of the complex systems that ran the stock market to even realize what was happening. If you thought that after the Great Recession of 2009 the banks were forced to act more responsibly… this book will slap you in the face with the unforgiving hand of truth.
Luckily, the banks are run by humans, some of which have a moral compass and a sense of doing right by those whose interests they are supposed to protect. Flash Boys is their story. It’s common in populist rhetoric to believe the financial system is a well thought out machine, designed on purpose to squeeze “the little guy.” The truth is, working class folks have their money tied up in the stock market in hopes of having some sort of retirement with the trust that their stock brokers are protecting their interests. In actuality, they were getting ripped off and, while immoral, the thieves were on the right side of the law.
Our hero, for lack of a better word, is Brad Katsuyama, an honest Canadian who accidentally discovers how rigged the system is while working for the Royal Bank of Canada. He puts together a team to get to the bottom of the swindle and educate other investors and banks who are getting ripped off and costing their most vulnerable and ignorant investors as well as their most powerful.
Lewis’ writing is fluid and fast paced and even though a lot of the technicalities went over my head initially, Lewis is so clear in describing the intricacies that even a financial ignoramus like me could understand.
Flash Boys is a great read. Moving through the book, it was at times hard to believe that this was all happening in a fraction of the time it takes to blink an eye. But alas, this is the new world. Where our systems are complicated to the point of collapse, and so fast, that we’ll never see it coming.