Lewis in 2009
|Born||Michael Monroe Lewis|
October 15, 1960
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Occupation||Non-fiction writer, journalist|
Diane de Cordova Lewis
Michael Monroe Lewis (born October 15, 1960) is an American author and financial journalist. He has also been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 2009, writing mostly on business, finance, and economics. He is known for his non-fiction work, particularly his coverage of financial crises and behavioral finance.
Lewis was born in New Orleans and attended Princeton University where he graduated with a degree in art history. After attending the London School of Economics, he began a career on Wall Street during the 1980s as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers. The experience prompted him to write his first book, Liar's Poker (1989). Fourteen years later, Lewis wrote Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2003), in which he investigated the success of Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics. His 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game was his first to be adapted into a film, The Blind Side (2009). In 2010, he released The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. The film adaptation of Moneyball was released in 2011, followed by The Big Short in 2015.
Lewis was born in New Orleans, the son of corporate attorney J. Thomas Lewis and community activist Diana Monroe Lewis. He went to Isidore Newman School. He later attended Princeton University and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in art and archaeology in 1982 after completing a 166-page senior thesis titled "Donatello and the Antique." While at Princeton, Lewis was a member of the Ivy Club. He worked with New York City art dealer Daniel Wildenstein for a short while. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Lewis shared that his initial ambition was to become an art historian, but he was quickly dissuaded once he realized that there would be no jobs available for art historians and that even the handful that existed did not pay good salaries.
Lewis subsequently enrolled at the London School of Economics and received an MA in economics in 1985. Lewis was hired by Salomon Brothers, stayed for a while in New York for their training program, and then relocated to London where he worked at Salomon's London office as a bond salesman for a few years. He has stated that the journalism found in "clips from The Economist and The Wall Street Journal", during this time, inspired him to explore becoming a writer.
Lewis described his experiences at Salomon and the evolution of the mortgage-backed bond in Liar's Poker (1989). In The New New Thing (1999), he investigated the then-booming Silicon Valley and discussed obsession with innovation. Four years later, Lewis wrote Moneyball (2003), in which he investigated the success of Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics. In August 2007, he wrote an article about catastrophe bonds, entitled "In Nature's Casino", that appeared in The New York Times Magazine.
Lewis has worked for The Spectator,The New York Times Magazine, as a columnist for Bloomberg, as a senior editor and campaign correspondent to The New Republic, and a visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote the Dad Again column for Slate. Lewis worked for Conde Nast Portfolio, but in February 2009 left to join Vanity Fair, where he became a contributing editor.
In September 2011, after the successful release of the film adaptation of his book Moneyball, it was reported that Lewis planned to take on "a much more active role in the what could be the next film based on one of his books" and would start writing a script for a Liar's Poker film.
During 2013 in Vanity Fair, Lewis wrote on the injustice of the prosecution of ex-Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, who is given an entire chapter in Flash Boys.Flash Boys, which looked at high-frequency trading of Wall Street and other markets, was released in March 2014.
In 2017, Lewis wrote a series of articles for Vanity Fair in which he described the Trump administration's approach to various federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture. His articles described a sense of incredulity and disillusionment from career civil servants, particularly because of the lack of attention from the Trump administration over the importance of some of their work, and the lack of care, knowledge, experience, and respect from Trump political appointees.
That material was incorporated into his book entitled, The Fifth Risk, which remained on the New York Times best seller list for non-fiction for fourteen weeks, and described the disconnect between the well-prepared plans for transition by the Obama administration and the apparent failure of concern by the incoming Trump administration and his appointees. Along with Energy and Agriculture, this book added Commerce among the main departments described.
In September of 2018, a lengthy excerpt from the book was published by The Guardian that used a quote by a top adviser to Trump in its title, and the excerpt was republished again among a review of the most popular articles of the entire year.
Lewis's podcast, Against the Rules, first aired on April 2, 2019.. The first season comprised seven episodes, each taking on a different aspect of society addressing the concept of fairness "in realms ranging from art authentication to consumer finance". The show often refers to the growing social distrust for authority, and refers to different types of public officials as "referees."Against the Rules was produced by Pushkin Industries, the media company led by journalist Malcolm Gladwell and former Slate executive Jacob Weisberg.
A best-selling author, Lewis has drawn both supporters and vocal detractors. In a review of Moneyball, Dan Ackman of Forbes said that Lewis had a special talent: "He can walk into an area already mined by hundreds of writers and find gems there all along but somehow missed by his predecessors". A New York Times piece said that "no one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis", praising his ability to use his subject's stories to show the problems with the systems around them.
Critics from outside the financial industry also have criticized Lewis for what they consider to be inaccuracies in his writing. In a 2011 column in The Atlantic, American journalist and sports author Allen Barra takes issue with Lewis' characterization of Major League Baseball in Lewis' book, Moneyball (2003). Barra writes: "From a historical standpoint, Lewis is, well, way off base. By the end of the 20th century baseball had achieved a greater level of competitive balance than at any time in the game's history... Moneyball doesn't just get the state of present-day baseball wrong; it also misrepresents the history of the sport."
Lewis's Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt ignited a new round of controversy surrounding high-frequency trading. At a House Financial Services Committee hearing in April 2014, Mary Jo White, former Wall Street insider (as a Debevoise & Plimpton litigations lawyer primarily for Wall Street financial firms), who later served as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair, denied the theme of the Lewis book, stating: "The markets are not rigged". One month later, in June 2014, White announced that the SEC would undergo a new round of regulatory review in response to concerns about dark pools and market structure.
Lewis has been married three times. He married his first wife, Diane de Cordova Lewis, in 1985. His second marriage was to former CNBC correspondent Kate Bohner. In October 1997, he married former MTV reporter Tabitha Soren. With Soren, he has two daughters and one son, and resides in Berkeley, California. Lewis is an atheist.
A former Goldman Sachs computer programmer convicted of stealing source code from the firm was sentenced on Friday to more than eight years in prison, capping a case that had shone a rare spotlight on the world of lightning-fast computer-driven trading.