I just got around to reading The Big Short by Michael Lewis, which is about some of the stuff that happened during the recent and ongoing financial crisis. He explains how some people anticipated the collapse of the credit market, and used weird and obscure instruments to take advantage of that. And I could pretty much understand what he was saying, at least while I was in mid-sentence. He gets you to feel like you’re in on the secret, and everybody else is a big dummy. Investors and bankers who weren’t positioned to capitalize on the subprime meltdown are often described in the book as “stupid” or “idiots”, or “stupid idiots”. But if you asked me today to describe how a synthetic collateralized debt obligation works, I would pretend that I didn’t hear you. And I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that “stupid idiot” remark as well.