It may be true, it may be funny, but linking it to the German economy is a little ... ... well let me put it this way. When I am under sleep deprivation, and I foolishly log onto some website, and start typing random crap out through the keyboard, sometimes people will tell me I sound like a deluded person screaming on the street.
Other times, people will say my writing is wonderful and brilliant, or at least mildly amusing. What is the difference? How do you know when you are writing something good versus something insane? How do you know when you are reading something good versus something insane?
When you describe there being 'good evidence' that Hitler loved sexual games involving feces (scat), without providing a reference, and then link this to the German banks and the CDO market, I don't know. I think you have teetered over into the insane-dude-on-the-street category a little bit.
Partway through the article. He writes:
"The only financial disaster in the last decade German bankers appear to have missed was investing with Bernie Madoff. (Perhaps the only advantage to the German financial system of having no Jews)"
Now, that is supposed to be a joke. But it comes off all wrong and twisted... like if Larry David told it at a party and a room full of people stopped eating and stared at him.
Then he describes the history of German banking as 'conservative' and lacking 'innovation'. I ... find this hard to believe. The Nazi Party grew from nerdy chicken farmers toodling around on motorcycles to 'spread the word', to a mass behemoth that killed 40 million+ people, involving practiaclly every leading industrialist on the planet, and carrying on every kind of subterfuge and underhanded hidden financial transfer imaginable, an example of which is their use of Swiss bankers and the Bank for International Settlements. Another example is to be found in the Nerthlands, when they forced all Jews to move their savings to special 'Jewish banks', and then after the Jews were killed, they simply seized the assets. When the war was over, the Nazis did not retire, many of the leaders in the Nazi government kept right on working in the new state, in both East and West Germany.
In the modern era, one of the first CDO lawsuits was done by one German bank, HSH Nordbank, against Barclays, back in 2005. It was in reference to a Synthetic CDO that Landesbank Kiel had purchased back in the year 2000. In the year 2000, the Synthetic CDO had barely even been invented, and it's precusor, the BISTRO, had only come out of Blythe Master's group at JP Morgan a year or few earlier. I.E. some of the German banks were not entirely out of the modern CDO innovation game in it's earlier days.
And what about his own book? Deutschebank is the ultimate shadowy figure in The Big Short, and it's man Greg Lippman lurks beyond the horizon of the story Lewis wants to tell. It was up to it's ears in creating Synthetic CDOs. Of course it claims that it lost money too. But so did American banks - the question is about their executives at the propietary trading desks within the banks, and the size of their bonuses.
I also have questions about Lewis' lexicographic argument. His assistant lists various German prhases involving 'shit', and Lewis implies that the German language itself therefore displays an anal obsession. But there are numerous phrases in English with a similar bent.
Bescheissen: “Someone shit on you.”
English similarity: "They fucked us in the ass"
Klugscheisser: “an intelligence shitter.”
English: Bullshitter, Bullshit artist
"And if you find yourself in a bad situation you say, Die Kacke ist am Dampfen: the shit is steaming.”
English: Up shit creek without a paddle. The shit hit the fan. That was a real shit show.
Scheissegal - "I don’t give a shit"
English: It's a direct translation!
“Scheisse glänzt nicht, wenn man sie poliert" - Shit won’t shine, even if you polish it
English: You can't polish a turd
More English Phrases:
That guy doesn't know shit from shine-o-la (shoe polish)
That fellow doesn't know the difference bewteen his own asshole and a hole in the ground
Opinions are like assholes: Everyone has one, and thinks their's doesnt stink.
When she hears what happened, she will shit a brick
That politician is really awful, he wiped his ass with the constitution
The one I can't seem to find a direct equivalent for is "Geldscheisser.”, or 'gold shitter'.
Although in English you might say "That guy is a rich asshole".
In the end of the article, Lewis, for some reason, tries to visit a mud wrestling fight. He can make all the flowery arguments he wants about the 'German national character', but it would appear that his real motive in this Vanity Fair article was to fulfill the dream of every 15 year old boy - to have your job being visiting strip clubs and making jokes about poop. Not that I'm hating. Go forward, God bless.
It's the economy, Dummkopf, Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair, 2011 September
Nomura fixed income research, Feb 22 2005 , from securitization.net
Barclays sued over $150m bond loss, Grant Ringshaw 19 Sep 2004, The Telegraph (UK)