Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk with Michael Lewis

If you’re a regular listener, you know this show is not political in nature. We leave that stuff to the so-called experts.

But since next Tuesday is Election Day, we thought we’d talk a little politics with rockstar author and repeat guest, Michael Lewis.

A prolific writer, it’s highly likely that you’ve probably picked up at least one of his books, including Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short or Flash Boys.

In this interview, we discuss his latest work, The Fifth Risk, which focuses on the consequences we may face if some of the people given control over the government have no idea how it works.  

As you turn the pages, you’ll be taken into various departments of the government that at times resemble a rudderless ship.

In Agriculture, the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.

Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for people who wish to shrink the world to a worldview.

Thankfully, Michael Lewis also finds the heroes, those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running.

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Ep. 046 - Food Stamps, Grants, Loans, and Behavioral Economics with Michael Lewis

For the second time this year we have a repeat guest on Better Off.

When you have a chance to grab Michael Lewis, you grab him, and that’s what we did!

In early June, Michael was on the pod to discuss his latest book, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. (He’s a prolific writer and chances are you’ve picked up at least one of his books, including Moneyball, The Big Short or Flash Boys.)

Since the Undoing Project is now out in paperback, and Richard Thaler was just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, it made for a perfect opportunity to revisit the topic of behavioral economics.

But that was only part of this interview.

The bulk of it was spent talking to Michael about his current work, which is penning articles for Vanity Fair.

His latest piece, Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.’s Scientists, is a wild tale about various Department of Agriculture programs that are under siege.

From food stamps to meat inspection, to grants and loans for rural development, to school lunches, these programs impact millions of Americans, though most of us have no idea what exactly the agency does.

Some of the things you hear in this interview will surprise you...and maybe scare you. Stay tuned for more of Michael’s excellent work...he is unstoppable!

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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Ep. 023 - Behavioral Economics with Michael Lewis

Sometimes a host has to do what a host has to do to land the interview.  You could say that was the case with the one and only Michael Lewis, our guest this week on Better Off.  

It was a few months back that I ran into Michael in the CBS This Morning Green Room and immediately started working my mojo to get him on the podcast.  Although it took weeks and weeks of emails to finally make it happen, it was worth the wait.

Lewis is such a prolific writer that you’ve probably picked up at least one of his books, including MoneyballThe Blind SideThe Big Short or Flash Boys. In this interview, we discuss his latest work, The Undoing Project.  

The Undoing Project explores the roots of behavioral economics, a topic that has always fascinated me. I love trying to understand why people make the decisions they do.  Trying to figure out how the human mind works.  And that’s what this book is all about.  

It’s starts with the partnership between Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.  Forty years ago, the pair wrote a series of original studies questioning our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind systematically erred, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine and led to a new approach to government regulation.

We also touched on many other topics including the financial industry, the current political climate and what he plans to work on next. Which means you’ll likely hear Michael again on this podcast sometime down the road…hopefully I won’t have to tackle him again in the Green Room!

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a finance related question? Email us here or call 855-411-JILL.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in iTunes!

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