Writings

The Big Burry


Saw a great movie, 'The big short'. It tells the story of the burst of the American housing bubble and the beginning of our most recent financial crisis as seen from the vantage point of a few individuals who saw it coming. They made a fortune out of predicting that the arrogance of the banking system would eventually cause it's own demise and the movie gives us a brief insight into the mind behind it all.
The Big Burry
Besides it being an entertaining couple of hours it again reminds us the importance of clear headed independent critical thinking. Got curious about the guy with the mind, the one who foresaw the whole thing, a man called Michael Burry, so I informed myself a little bit more about who he is and what made him be the only person who saw what now in retrospect should have been detected way before.

He is an intelligent man. A man grew up seeing the world and people differently. He believed it was because of the fact that he had lost an eye in early childhood and had a left eye made of glass, this caused him much discomfort both physically and in the social context. He hated looking people in the eye and he was absolutely clueless when it came to reading their nonverbal language, so he ended up a loner. He thought the eye was also the reason for his lack of social skills, he even believed that his obsession with fairness and honesty was in some way linked to his missing eye.

It wasn't until much later when he started reading up on Aspergers on account of his son who displayed very similar characteristics to those he himself had struggled with as a child, that he realized that the description of the person with Aspergers was a description of himself and the 'symptoms' of that particular version of human stated all the reasons why he had always been so different. He had earlier been diagnosed bipolar, but he had rejected the diagnosis, since he neither felt very depressed nor highly elated, but what he read about Aspergers was spot on.

But ultimately to him it wasn't that important, not professionally. After all he had always been this way, the fact that it now had a name didn't change the way he conducted himself in the professional world. Now, because of this inability to be dishonest, his capacity for intense focus and the fact that he didn't care to get anyone's approval, he was a respected but very much an outsider figure in the finance game. But that outsiders perspective enabled him to see what was behind the curtains of a very polished and established system and he subsequently made a fortune out of understanding and betting that that system was and still is deeply flawed. He had from his vantage point of always being on the outside looking in never felt the need to follow what anyone else was doing, he trusted his own mind and the extensive research he had conducted of the financial market and it ultimately payed off in a big way. It saddened him though, he mentions in an interview:


"I felt I was watching a plane crash. I actually had that dream again and again. I knew what was happening, but there was nothing I, or anyone else, could do to stop it. The last day of 2007, I couldn’t come home. I was in the office till late at night, I couldn’t calm down. I wrote my wife an email and just said, "I can’t come home; it’s just too upsetting what’s happening, and I didn’t want to come home to my kids like this." As for punishment of those responsible, borrowers were punished for their overindulgences — they lost homes and lives. Let’s not forget that. But the executives at the lenders simply got rich. Were you surprised no one went to jail?"


I could go on and on for pages talking about this unusual man. I really love to encounter, whether virtually or in real life, these inspiring individuals. I love how Michael Burry is such a refreshing example set in such a twisted world as the one of virtual money. It's interesting and kind of shines a light on the shortage of inspiration I find in the yogic one.

Lately I just feel disappointed, dispassionate or embarrassed when I see how the yoga community looks when it's portrayed, not much different from how the financial community is portrayed in "The Big Short", a very glossy surface that hides the same old oh so human traits like all traditions, religions, systems and cultures eventually stumble and fall upon.

I recommend all you yogis out there see the famous UCLA commencement speech Mr Burry held in 2005, if you haven't already. It's brilliant.


http://youtu.be/1CLhqjOzoyE


If the wording of the financial dictionary proves to be a too big a fence to climb then try imagining that he instead of speaking about lending, spending and predictions on Wall Street, is speaking about the world you are currently engaged in.

And if you don't have nineteen minutes and have to put it on the burner until you can, I will leave you with this quote that so demonstrates not just the state of affairs and the reality we're living in, but reading between the lines, just how important our individual contribution is and will more increasingly become.

"In this age of infinite distraction... when the entitled elect themselves, the party accelerates and the brutal hangover is inevitable"

 

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