Study Guide

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Perseverance

By Michael Lewis


What would you do if the entire world was telling you one thing, but your brain was telling you another? Would you sit down and shut up? Would you mutter under your breath? Or would you stand up for your beliefs like your life depended on it?

In The Big Short, Steve Eisman and Michael Burry choose the final option when they accurately predict the 2008 stock market crash, years before it happens. But here's the thing: no one believes them. For years. As they fight tooth and nail to convince Wall Street of the error of its ways—and, okay, also make themselves a cozy profit in the process—they display an incredible amount of perseverance in the face of opposition.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. Is Eisman unnecessarily confrontational? Why or why not?
  2. What caused the big banks and Wall Street firms to ignore Eisman and Burry's warnings?
  3. How do Burry's and Eisman's personal backgrounds influence their determination?
  4. Is there any way that Burry and Eisman could have prevented the crisis from happening? Explain.

Chew on This

Although Eisman's determination is respectable, he might have had a stronger impact if he had used a different tactic to get the word out.

Ultimately, Eisman's confrontational attitude is justified, as it was the only way he could get people to listen to him at all.

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