Michael Lewis's 'going Infinite' account of Sam Bankman-Fried reveals why he'll not write

Michael Lewis's 'going Infinite' account of Sam Bankman-Fried reveals why he'll not write

Sherophobia is the problem with having a hero: soon or later, they will disappoint you. I was reminded of this upon reading an excerpt from Michael Lewis's new account of Sam Bankman-Fried titled Going Infinite and listening to the author's comments about the disgraced FTX founder on 60 Minutes. I have long been regarded Lewis as the king of business writers-Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and The Big Short are among my favorite books- but he whiffed badly in the case of Bankman-Fried.

Before going into the specific issues, it's helpful to recognize that Lewis has a formula of sorts: find an outsider type who has a blazing genius to not only see truths that others cannot, but to act on them. And so we get the story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane outsmarting the much richer New York Yankees or hedge fund manager Michael Burry shorting the bubble-inflated housing market. Bankman-Fried was set to get the same treatment from Lewis until the FTX empire collapsed in a massive fraud right as Going Infinite was going to the printers-forcing the author to hastily update the story.

This is simply wrong. However, FTX didn't collapse because of a run on deposits, so you can quibble about the exact definition of a Ponzi scheme. It collapsed because Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars from customers to invest in luxury properties, bribe the U.S. government, and promise a $55 million payment to his would-be BFF Tom Brady.

Bankman-Fried's hilarious dissusion of fashion queen Anna Wintour and his bid to pay Donald Trump $5 billion not to seek reelection, but also shows how Lewis fails to grasp the sociopathy that drives his protagonist. Lewis shows Bankman-Fried's larceny as inspired by a greater purpose and an intellectual so perfect that he can perform constant calculations of morality while playing video games.

He certainly has that right. I've received my advance copy and will write a proper assessment soon. A longtime literary hero has delivered a big disappointment, and for now, it's enough to say that he has delivered a big disappointment.

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Did he really say that?