Study Guide

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Greed

By Michael Lewis


"Greed is good."

So said Gordon Gekko, anyway, the villain in 1987's Wall Street. Well, based on what we see in The Big Short, the real Wall Street took this dude's message to heart. The early 2000s were a high time in the financial world, with companies raking in record profits and individual traders banging out behemoth bonuses.

But there's a dark secret underneath all of that cash flow: their banker's investments are terrible. So terrible, in fact, that they threaten to destroy the economy of the entire world. So do these people stop? Do they experience a change of heart? Do they ask for forgiveness? Don't make us LOL. Though it might depress you at times, The Big Short will show you how powerful greed can be.

Questions About Greed

  1. Are the short-sellers greedy? Explain your answer.
  2. In what ways does the financial system depicted in the book encourage greediness?
  3. Are there any political factors that led to Wall Street's greed? If so, what are they?
  4. How does the CDO market symbolically relate to Wall Street's greed?

Chew on This

The short-sellers are greedy because they are just as concerned with making a profit as the big Wall Street firms.

The short-sellers are not greedy, because they try many times to stop the crisis, even at the expense of their own profits.

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