From ' Riches to Rags ' : Crypto cryptography. Michael Lewis tries to decode Sam Bankman-Fried the disgraced founder of FTX.

'' Going Infinite. By Michael Lewis '' : In Zeke Faux's new book on crypto, '' Numbers Go Up '', there is an unflattering portrait of Michael Lewis.

The author of '' The Big Short '' took the stage in the Bahamas in April 2022 to interview Sam Bankman-Fried, a crypto billionaire about whom he was rumored to be writing a book.

'' Three years ago, nobody knew who you were,'' Mr. Lewis gushed. '' And now you're sitting on the cover of magazines. And you're a gazillionaire. And you're business is, like, one of the fastest-growing businesses in the history of the planet.'

It made Mr. Faux, a writer for Bloomberg who was in the audience, uncomfortable, as  '' the author's questions were so fawning.'' He began to question whether Mr. Lewis was writing the book or whether he was a shill for Bankman-Fried.

That biography : '' Going Infinite '', is now out, published on the day Mr. Bankman-Fried trial began in New York. He is charged with multiple counts of fraud and misappropriating clients' money; he has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Lewis had unparalleled access to Sam, as he calls him, - or SBF, as the rest of the world knows him, - in 2022 and early 2023. In that time Mr. Bankman-Fried went from the world's richest man under 30 to alleged mastermind of the biggest fraud of the crypto era.

In the past Mr. Lewis has focused on little-known people doing extraordinary things. This time his subject is notorious. Some readers may share Mr. Faux's worry : that Mr. Lewis has got so close to Mr. Bankman-Fried that he ceases to be objective.

From the start, Mr. Bankman-Fried is portrayed as a puzzling yet oddly magnetic personality. He struggles to make sense of his childhood. His appearance is alienating. [ He has to teach himself how to smile.]

He hates fashion, sporting cargo shorts and unkempt hair. A hilarious passage describes him playing a fiendish video game while speaking to Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue on Zoom.

His hyper rationality sets him apart from almost everyone. He views people not as good or bad, but as ''probability distributions'' around a mean.

He uses population statistics to dismiss the work of Shakespeare. He argues that there is too little money in politics, rather than too much, given the enormous impact of America's $15 trillion government spending. He mulls paying Donald Trump $5 billion not to run for president.

Mr. Bankman-Fried's rationality leads him down two paths. First, he finds a calling in spotting statistical anomalies in financial markets, especially cryptocurrencies, and exploiting them to make a fortune.

Second, he discovers in the '' Effective Altruism '' [EA] community like-minded nerds who more than having feelings for their fellow human beings, have feelings about saving humanity in general.

That enables them to use dispassionate calculations to decide how to make the biggest difference with their money. Both paths intersect early in his career with dazzling disastrous consequences.

The World Students Society thanks The Economist.


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