Michael Lewis’ Prescription for Wall Street

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
Feb. 27 2012 5:52 PM

Don’t Let Big Banks Hold Us Hostage

The Big Short author Michael Lewis on how to avoid another financial meltdown.

Wall Street sign.

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Ever since his days as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s, author Michael Lewis has been tracking and chronicling the culture of Wall Street and the dysfunction of the financial industry, most recently in his books The Big Short and Boomerang.

Lewis sat down recently with Jacob Weisberg to talk about how history may look back on the period from the go-go ’80s to the crash of 2008 and its aftermath. He predicts future generations will wonder, “How did you not notice 24-year-olds were being paid $2 million a year who clearly didn’t know anything?” He also gives interesting advice on how to avoid another meltdown: Have financial firms declare themselves either in the advisory business or in the gambling business.

Here’s Part 1 of Lewis’ interview, in which he discusses the challenges of turning his baseball book Moneyball into a movie. Look for more from the interview in the days ahead, including a segment where Lewis answers Slate reader questions.