In an article by Michael Lewis, of Bloomberg News, Lewis discusses his thoughts on why “finance is one thing you should never engage in with the poor.” Obviously, when he says finance, he is referring to investing in the “poor” market, such as with subprime mortgage loans. And when he uses the word “poor”, he is referring to “anyone who the SEC wouldn’t allow to invest in my hedge fund. And maybe if he was just referring to the subprime market with his reasoning being that the entire non-traditional lending movement did not work, his statement would not be so ridiculous. But Mr. Lewis did not stop there.
In fact, Michael Lewis had several more points to address in his dismissal of poor people, (which is really the lower-middle class and below for him) as something to invest in. Unfortunately for Lewis, his points were no less shaky the very subprime mortgage itself.
Lewis point #1: “[The poor] are masters of public relations.”
Under this point, Lewis describes his investment in the subprime portfolio as an act of philanthropy, and says that because people who invested in the market are being ripped by the media his charitable actions have been turned against him. As his statement above denotes, he clearly thinks that poor people have intentionally made him out to be the bad guy in order not to place the blame on somebody. Well, sorry Mr. Lewis, but as you said, you “bought [subprime stock] at a discount,” and you did that because you were okay in using your money to charge outrageous interest rates on “poor” homeowners. Karma, baby. Karma.
Lewis point #2: “Poor people don’t respect other people’s money in the way money deserves to be respected.”
Not even mentioning his labeling of the poor as “schlubs”, Lewis goes on to pretty much say that the “poor” simply just waved their hands in the air and defaulted on their loans in order to get out of the obligation…as if they had a choice! Come on, the people who defaulted are the one’s who could no longer afford their mortgages once ARMs sent their monthly payments into orbit. Yes, Lewis does make a good point here when basically faulting those who were not aware of the hike their mortgage payments could incur, because those people should have done everything they could have to understand the terms of their mortgage. However, it has been clearly documented that there are many lenders who violated all ethics and did not make such information clear, if they brought it up at all when at the negotiating table.
Lewis point #3: “I’ve grown out of touch with poor culture.”
Yes, you have, Lewis. Yes, you have.
Lewis point #4: “Our society is really, really hostile to success. At the same time it’s shockingly indulgent of poor people.”
This could not be further from the truth. When describing this point, Lewis talks about how the government is trying to “bail [the poor] out.” What he really should be noting is how the government is trying to take advantage of this for political gain. The “poor” are the one’s that get people elected, and pandering to them is the government’s way of saying, “you scratch my back, and I’ll say I’ll scratch yours.” Lewis also makes mention of turning the poor into a circus, a statement that can only be defined as elitist, insensitive and classist. Not to mention classless.
Leis point #5: “I think it’s time we all become more realistic about letting the poor anywhere near Wall Street.”
In this point, Lewis finally defines what “poor” is according to him, which is “mainstream.” So he has been talking middle-class America throughout his piece, just as I noted before. But his point about not letting mainstream anywhere near Wall Street is nothing but a pipe dream, because unfortunately, Wall Street is based 100% on the ongoings of the mainstream culture. It is based on what we buy, what we like, what we cherish, and what we want. Business make money on Wall Street buy upping the price on what we must have so that investors can see higher and higher returns.
To end, Lewis calls the “poor sharks,” but if you have ever seen someone in the likes of Michael Lewis, then you really know what it is like to see a fish out of water.