In a recent article, the author reviews Michael Lewis’s book, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon,” which revolves around the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF). The reviewer notes that while the book does provide a thorough look into Bankman-Fried’s background and personality, it falls short in providing a nuanced breakdown of what went wrong at FTX and lacks in financial analysis.
One of the key moments in the book that stands out is when Bankman-Fried mentions that he explored the possibility of paying Donald Trump $5 billion to not run for president in 2024. The author finds this claim extraordinary but is disappointed that Lewis does not delve deeper into it. Throughout the book, Lewis seems willing to let Bankman-Fried off the hook, even after he was charged with fraud and money-laundering.
The article also comments on the current skepticism surrounding cryptocurrencies in the aftermath of FTX’s collapse. The author notes that it has become fashionable to dismiss cryptocurrencies as scams, and questions why individuals didn’t question their legitimacy from the start. However, the author suggests that Lewis’s book started in a different time, when bullish claims about cryptocurrencies were readily accepted.
The reviewer also highlights Lewis’s portrayal of Bankman-Fried’s connection to the movement known as effective altruism (EA), which influenced his approach to cryptocurrency trading. Lewis paints EA as a borderline cult and suggests that FTX may have suffered from a lack of financial controls due to the team’s belief that they were amassing money to do good in the world. The lack of financial controls should have been a red flag for employees, but they stayed until $8 billion went missing.
The review concludes by recommending a more nuanced breakdown of what went wrong at FTX and a big-picture argument about crypto. It suggests that readers looking for financial analysis should turn to books like Zeke Faux’s “Number Go Up,” which provides a more in-depth look at the rise and fall of cryptocurrencies and the role of individuals like Bankman-Fried. The article also mentions “Easy Money” by Ben McKenzie and Jacob Silverman as another option for those interested in crypto narratives.
Overall, the article highlights some of the flaws in Lewis’s book while acknowledging the value of his portrayal of Bankman-Fried’s story and personality. It encourages readers to seek out other books for a more comprehensive understanding of the crypto industry.