Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Criticism of Michael Lewis' Article on German Culture

link here to article

This article (via Manan Shukla) is critical of Michal Lewis' attempt to deal with the debt problems in Europe using cultural stereotypes. He has been criticized within Germany, Greece and Ireland for misusing that method. This critique is about the cultural stereotypes that he used in his article on Germany (which I posted without without alluding to his use of stereotypes). The stereotypes which he used in the article on Germany were indeed over the top and offensive. My wife asked me why I posted it. I think that Lewis understands the Wall Street culture very well. He was also aware of Wall Street's exploitation of several German banks during the mortgage securitization scandal. He also knew that German bankers were counter parties to the huge bet that John Paulson made by shorting the market, after participating in the choice of the mortgage securities that were used in the security that he shorted. Lewis' explanation centered on his knowledge of how Wall Street operates and also on the false impressions that German bankers had about how Wall Street really operates. His use of cultural stereotypes was not central to his analysis.

His explanation of the problems in the Euro Zone were insightful, and did not depend upon the stereotypes that he used in his articles on Germany and Greece. There are cultural difference between these countries which makes it difficult for each to understand the other. I agree with Lewis that one can't turn Greece into Germany, and that part of that problem resides in the different value systems and political systems that dominate in each culture. Lewis' article would have been more effective if he had not used the offensive material about toilet habits, and references to Hitler and Germany under Fascism.

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