Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis's latest book is The Fifth Risk.

From his interview with Roge Karma for Vox:

Roge Karma: In the book you talk about a few other ways Trump increases the possibility of future risk — those connected to his particular personality and temperament. What are some of the other ways Trump amplifies risk?

Michael Lewis: Trump has created a bizarre absence of information channels from people who know things to the Oval Office. Just look at the coronavirus. People were trying to tell him this was a problem in early January. And on the rare occasions anybody who knows something gets through to him, he doesn’t want to hear it. That’s his temperament. He doesn’t want you to give him the bad news. And if you give him the bad news, you’re fired.

That’s exactly the opposite of the temperament you want in somebody who’s managing risk. People are already reluctant to give you bad news or bad information or tell you about risky situations because it’s an inherently unpleasant thing to do. If you disincentivize them even further, you’re just not going to find out what you need to know.

But there’s a third aspect to him that I find is almost the key to everything. So far, we’ve been talking about Trump as if he cares about risk and he wants to manage it well. I don’t think that’s true. I think that his whole life is about doing whatever his impulses tell him to do. And then, after the fact, telling a story that renders him the hero of the story — the person who saved the day. He’s always done this, no matter the facts.

I actually think he moves through life thinking, whatever happens, I can undo it with a story. That’s why he’s so numb to [experts]. He has no use for them. So I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue