Study Guide

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Society and Class

By Michael Lewis

Society and Class

As we all know, the 2008 stock market crash was pretty bad for Joe Schmo on the street.

Although The Big Short focuses on the financial aspects of the 2008 stock market crash, it never forgets about its impact on regular, working-class people all over the world. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, Wall Street was on a tear, making more money than it ever had before. There was just one problem: that profit came at the expense of the American public—and the rest of the world, too. Womp womp.

No matter where you land on the spectrum of political alignment, you'll walk away from The Big Short with a healthy dose of skepticism toward the powers-that-be when it comes to the economy. Scary, huh?

Questions About Society and Class

  1. What are the differences between how the various short-selling groups view society? How do these differences manifest?
  2. How did the actions taken by the financial industry affect society at large? Were those actions responded to appropriately? Why or why not?
  3. In what way did the financial crisis upend the American social contract? Explain.
  4. Is Eisman correct in blaming income inequality for the financial crisis? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Eisman is correct in saying that the financial crisis was caused by income inequality, as Americans wouldn't need subprime loans otherwise.

Eisman is incorrect in saying that the financial crisis was caused by income inequality; it was caused by a convergence of factors, rather than merely one.