‘The US stock market is rigged.’ That’s the j’accuse headline that screams out from Flash Boys, the new book by Michael Lewis. It’s a very big claim, made by America’s foremost financial writer. It’s also a claim that, after years of accumulating evidence, warrants extremely close and sustained official scrutiny.
Lewis produced Liar’s Poker, his first bestseller, in 1989 — after a four-year stint as a fresh-from-the-Ivy-League bond dealer at the now defunct firm Salomon Brothers. The book, an insider’s account, brilliantly lampooned the macho, aggressive behaviour of the ‘big swinging dicks’ who paced the carpet-tiled trading floors. Liar’s Poker defined popular understanding of Wall Street in the go-go, testosterone-fuelled 1980s.